En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - August 26, 2005

From: Grant, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Pruning, Vines
Title: Smarty Plants on pruning Clematis
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I would like to know about pruning clematis. The one I have is getting very large. Should I cut it back, and if so, in the Spring or Fall? I live in Michigan. Thank you.

ANSWER:

There are two native clematis species that occur in Michigan, Western blue virginsbower (Clematis occidentalis) and Devil's-darning-needles (Clematis virginiana). However, I suspect you have one of the many beautiful non-native species or hybrids. Whichever you have, how and when you prune your clematis depends on the season that it flowers. For pruning purposes all clematis species and cultivars are divided into three groups based on when they bloom and where on the plant the flowers occur.

Group 1 clematis bloom early in the year and the blooms occur on the previous year's stems. In this case, you want to prune them very lightly (or not at all), just enough to make them tidy, by removing only dead branches. The stems should be cut just above a pair of healthy buds. This should be done immediately after flowering.

Group 2 has large flowers that occur on last year's growth early in the summer. Again, since this group also blooms on the previous year's stem, they should be pruned lightly in late winter or early spring. You can prune away older growth and leave the one- or two-year-old stems by cutting old growth just above two healthy buds.

Group 3 clematis bloom from this year's stems and are mid- to late-season bloomers. This group, since its blooms occur on the current year's growth, should be extensively pruned in late winter to encourage new growth. All stems should be pruned to about 10-12 inches above the ground just above a pair of healthy buds.

For more information on both native and non-native clematis care, a great place to start is the website of The American Clematis Society.

 

More Vines Questions

Questions about Clematis virginiana in Austin, TX.
August 26, 2011 - Hello! I have a few questions regarding Clematis virginiana. Is it scented? Does it attract birds and butterflies? Do only female flowers get the feathery plumes? If yes, how do I know if ...
view the full question and answer

Need plants to cover a fence and retaining wall combination
January 27, 2010 - Recently we replaced our fence and I need help with plants to mask an 18 foot section of fence/retaining wall. The fence guy set the fence back about 10 inches from the top of the retaining wall which...
view the full question and answer

Identity of vine with orangish flowers
July 09, 2014 - I am looking to ID what I believe is a vine growing plant that blooms orangish flowers. I have pictures of the plant, and have attempted to use multiple plant ID websites. But have been unsuccessful. ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of thorny vine in Michigan
May 21, 2013 - We have a species growing around our rural SW Michigan property that I'm trying to identify: I either see stalks up to 3 ft tall, or much longer vines if they find anchor. The most notable characte...
view the full question and answer

Native trailing plant for Nebraska
October 01, 2009 - I live in the tall grass prairie area of Eastern Nebraska and am working on some prairie restoration and native plantings. I have just put in a limestone retaining wall and would like to find a nativ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center