Many garden plants benefit from pruning, but it's always important to prune at the right time of year, but also in the right way. Some plants should be pruned in Spring, while others are best left until Summer, Autumn or Winter.
Tip # 1 Pruning Clematis
Regular pruning of clematis encourages strong growth and flowering and keeps the growth in check. If left unpruned, clematis can turn into a mass of tangled stems with bare base and flowers well above eye level.
Although there are numerous clematis species, hybrids and cultivars, for pruning purposes they are split into three distinct pruning groups based on the time of flowering and the age of the flowering wood.
Pruning Group 1
This group comprises the early-blooming clematis that flower on shoots produced the previous season. They require no regular pruning except for the removal of faded flowers. In subsequent years some training and perhaps thinning may be necessary. If renovation is required, plants can be cut back to 15cm (6in) from the base after flowering. This operation will affect flowering and should not be carried out again within three years.
Pruning Group 2
This group comprises the large-flowered cultivars that flower in May to June on short shoots developing from the previous year's growth. Some flower again in late summer on new growth. They require only to have the flowers cut off, back to a large growth bud immediately below the flower as soon as flowering is over. They can, if preferred, be left unpruned other than for the removal of dead shoot ends in spring.
Pruning Group 3
This group comprises clematis that flower from mid- to late summer on the terminal 60cm (2ft) or so of the current year’s growth. If this type is left unpruned growth will continue from where it ended the previous season, resulting in a tangled mass of growth, flowering often well above eye level and stems bare at the base. These late-flowering clematis are best pruned back hard in February each year to the lowest pair of buds.