How Do You Prune and Care for Clematis?


Quick Answer

Care for and prune clematis by choosing and preparing the planting site, adding supports for the vines, watering the plant weekly, mulching and fertilizing it, and pruning it annually. You need thin wire, a trowel, a trellis, water, mulch, fertilizer and pruning shears.

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Full Answer

  1. Choose the planting site

    Choose a planting site that has a neutral pH and at least six hours of full sun per day. The site needs to be free of other plants and trees so that the roots do not have to compete for nutrients.

  2. Prepare the planting site

    Work compost into the top 2 feet of soil.

  3. Add supports

    Either plant the clematis close to a building or fence to support the vines, or add a trellis. Place plastic-coated wire over the trellis, as the vines can only twine around thin branches or supports.

  4. Plant the clematis

    Plant the clematis in a hole large enough for the root ball, and fill the hole with soil. Immediately trim the stems back to 12 inches to encourage branching.

  5. Water the plant

    Give the plant 1 inch of water per week.

  6. Mulch the plant

    Add a 2-inch layer of mulch to the plant every spring.

  7. Fertilize the plant

    Feed the plant with a 3:1:2 ratio of fertilizer once a year.

  8. Choose the right time to prune

    If you have an early-flowering clematis, prune it in the summer after it blooms. Prune large- and late-flowering clematis in the early spring before flowering.

  9. Prune the clematis

    For early-flowering types, cut away the shoots that have just produced blooms. Avoid cutting into old wood. For large-flowering types, remove dead and weak branches. For late-flowering clematis, cut each stem on the plant back to 2 feet.

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