Clematis Pruning Group 3
The Late Bloomers
Unlike other types of Clematis, Group 3 blooms on "new wood" (which means the current season's growth; if you keep last year's flowering stems on the plant, they won't set buds). So, unless you live in a climate where your Clematis naturally dies back to the ground in winter, you must prepare yourself to whack off all the old stems in late winter/early spring down to about a foot from the ground, just above the place where the new season's growth begins.
"Forget it!" I hear you cry, remembering how you patiently helped your Clematis twine up the mailbox post last spring and were rewarded with a bloom show like none you'd ever experienced before in your life. I know; it seems harsh, especially for those of us in the south, who aren't used to plants that die back completely, then pop up again in spring more vigorous than ever. But if you'll take my word and remove all the old growth until you're left with a couple of stems about 12 inches from the ground, you won't be sorry. Look for the place where the stem changes color a bit — that will be where last season's growth began. Leave just an inch or two of that new color, cutting away the rest.
Once you know your Clematis's pruning number and get that first-year trim out of the way, keeping this woody climber looking its best and blooming like crazy is simple! A few minutes once a year will yield you armloads of flowers for many seasons, and you will continue to find new uses for Clematis, from hiding an unsightly fence to decorating your most formal garden art!
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