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Clematis pruning question - merlin - 10-09-2006

Hi everyone, yes, I've read all the articles about whether and how to prune your clematis depending on what "class" it is in, but mine still has me stumped. I have no idea what the name of it is, but it has HUGE pure white flowers (no colored centers) in early spring, very prolific, and basically "bare legs." Problem is, it is climbing up a lamp post that is only about eight feet high, and it is a tangled mess at the top (a robin even built a nest in it last spring!) I am considering cutting it down severely next spring, but don't know whether to hack it to the ground, or just thin it out. Either way, I need to give it a severe cutback at the top. I am willing to sacrifice one year's growth if, in the long run, it will benefit it - should I go for it???

Thanks much!

Re: Clematis pruning question - KimmSr - 10-10-2006

When does this flower? If it is late summer it could be Sweet Autumn and that one can be pruned way back in the spring when you see new growth.

Re: Clematis pruning question - IntrepidMeredith - 10-10-2006

Since your clematis flowers in the spring, it's probably not a Type 3 variety, which flowers summer to fall.

Do you know if it blooms on the old wood or the new wood?
If it blooms on the old wood, it's probably Type 1, and should be pruned after blooming, like lilacs.
If it blooms on new spring growth, it's probably Type 2, and should be pruned in March above a pair of strong buds.

Also, Type1/old wood tends to bloom in spring (with lilacs, azaleas and magnolias), whereas Type 2/new wood tends to bloom early summer (with roses, phlox, campanula and thyme).

Re: Clematis pruning question - merlin - 10-10-2006

From what you've both described, I would have to say it blooms on old wood (actually, possibly old and new, but old for sure), as I have never pruned it except to cut out obvious winter-damage, and it blooms rather prolifically in early/mid spring, if not for a very long time (it's probably 3-4 yrs. old at this point.) So it looks like I should probably bite the bullet next year AFTER it blooms to cut it back rather severely - it has just become such a tangled mess, but if I hack it down before it blooms next spring and we get no flowers for a season, my husband will be SO bummed, that's why I'm asking for all this advice!

Thanks so much everyone!

Re: Clematis pruning question - mister22 - 08-27-2007

I have a question in regards to dead-heading. Is it necessary to do so? I live on the central coast of Southern California. Thanks, 777mmkk.