Skip to content

Pruning clematis in the fall or spring? When and how often you cut them depending on the pruning group

Like many other plants, clematis (also called woodland vine) benefits from pruning. This promotes growth and allows them to shine in full bloom. But when and how exactly you should prune the clematis depends on the variety or the pruning group. Today’s post is specifically about the varieties that are pruned for the fall season. Learn how to prune clematis in the fall depending on the variety.

The pruning groups of the Clematis – When do you prune Clematis?

Pruning clematis in autumn - when and why you should prune them

There are three pruning groups for this plant and depending on which one your specimen belongs to, you will need to prune clematis in the fall or spring. The way you cut it also depends on this. We will briefly summarize:

Pruning group I:

This group is pruned only when necessary, and when it is, it is pruned in the spring after flowering (May/June). It is more of a rejuvenating topiary that becomes necessary when the woodland vine has become bare at the base and very large overall.

  • Alpine Clematis
  • Mountain Clematis (Clematis montana)
  • Clematis macropetala
  • Large-flowered woodland vine (Clematis macropetala)
  • Native wild species and other varieties that bloom in spring (e.g., those from the Atragene group)

Clematis pruning in autumn or spring depending on the pruning group.

Pruning clematis in the fall – These varieties get a pruning now.

So the first pruning group is irrelevant to you at this time. However, if you have any of the following varieties in your garden, you can already plan to prune them back in the near future. You can prune the following groups of clematis in the fall:

Pruning Group II:

The specimens from this group are pruned even twice a year. The first pruning is done either in late autumn or right after the end of winter, that is, in early spring. Immediately after the flowering phase, you need to prune the respective varieties a second time. This is usually in May or June. Shortened is one-third to one-half the length of the shoots, which should encourage new, vigorous shoots on which the flowers appear. The main flowering is in the summer . After that, clean and prune the plant one more time, but only lightly, cutting off the clematis flowers and trimming the shoots a little.

  • early flowering varieties (mostly hybrids, especially with double flowers), which bloom twice a year.
  • Italian woodland vines (e.g. Clematis viticella).

Clematis cutting in autumn - Which varieties get a radical pruning

Pruning group III:

These varieties can also be pruned each year as early as late fall, i.e., late November or early December, or early spring (February or March), and in doing so, remove anything that has grown up during the season. Only leave about 20 to 50 centimeters of shoots above ground when pruning clematis in fall or spring, which has the purpose of vigorous resprouting with abundant flowering.

  • All perennial/herbaceous woodland vines
  • Clematis texensis
  • Clematis orientalis
  • single-flowered, large-flowered hybrids from the Patens group
  • golden clematis (Clematis tangutica)
  • Italian clematis
  • other wild species and varieties

Exceptions prove the rule – whether pruning is necessary depends on the following

Climbing clematis sometimes only needs pruning for rejuvenation


Mostly the pruning has the purpose to avoid the balding of the lower areas, because then the flowers appear only in the upper areas. If the plant stands solitary as a perennial, for example, or on a climbing support, this is also quite an aesthetic problem. In this case, you should cut it before you overwinter the clematis (or just alternatively in the spring according to the rules mentioned above).

However, some people use the woodland vine as a climbing plant (which it is not, in fact), for example, to decorate trees such as magnolia or other high areas with flowers in the summer. In this case, the bare beginning does not matter and you do not need to perform radical pruning. However, rejuvenation pruning is still necessary for groups II and III as a maintenance measure. This should be done at the above-mentioned times, but only every four to five years.

Pruning promotes growth and flowering in the clematis vine

It also makes sense to keep an eye on the pruning times when you are looking for a planting partner for the clematis. For example, varieties that can (and should) be pruned in the fall and also sprout a bit later in the spring are particularly well-suited for roses, as the latter will have plenty of time and air to flourish this way during the winter months. Summer-flowering clematis varieties have this feature in itself.

Clematis pruning in autumn – prevent diseases!

Summer flowering varieties are pruned twice a year


Whether you prune clematis in the fall or choose spring, the plant is always exposed to potential diseases, and fresh cuts in particular represent weak spots. For this reason, it’s really important to use the right garden tools and prepare them well. This means sharp secateurs, which you best disinfect in advance.

Tip: You can use the cut shoots to propagate the woodland vine .

In this way you guarantee a straight, smooth cut, because bruised parts of the plant are ideal entry surfaces for pathogens and you should also avoid fringed shoot ends. In turn, disinfecting the scissors should prevent you from transferring any diseases from one plant to another. It is therefore best to cut each plant separately and then disinfect the scissors again before applying them to the next plant.

Clematis pruning in autumn - pruning is done just before winter