En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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 Pruning Questions

Winter pruning for yucca in Adrian, Michigan
October 11, 2010 - Can I cut yucca plants down for winter months.
view the full question and answer

Should I use wound paint when pruning my live oak tree?
February 04, 2010 - When trimming live oak branches, is it best to coat the wound on the tree? I have been doing this but have recently heard that it can actually be bad for the tree.
view the full question and answer

Should I top my scraggly magnolia tree? No
January 27, 2010 - Mr.Smarty Plants, I live in Crockett,Tx. My husband and I just bought this house. In the front yard I have a very tall,scraggly magnolia tree due to trees growing up around it. We have cut some of tho...
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock in my Nuttall Oak tree in Moore, OK.
July 23, 2009 - I had a Nutall oak tree planted; it is 5 inches in diameter and about 24 feet tall. It was planted in March of this year, leafed out ok; now since June 20th I have had a large quantity of the leaves t...
view the full question and answer

How do I prepare blackfoot daisies for winter in Austin, TX
October 19, 2010 - I have blackfoot daisies in my garden that have bloomed all summer. They are cascading out of the bed onto my lawn/grass. They have been so beautiful that I hate to cut them back. How do I prepare t...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center