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Pruning clematis montana

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Question from Donald Hart


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The alarming prospect of facing this task will fast be upon me. HELP! I know when to prune but not how. What for example do I do with all those fresh non-flowering shoots striving for heaven, way above the fence? I have three plants and it seems impossible to untangle to reach dead wood etc. Any advice warmly appreciated - I don't want to lose a year of flowering but plants need reducing.

  • Views: 1004
  • Replies: 2
  • Posted: Fri. 20th May 2011 21:14

Re: Pruning clematis montana

Reply from Kathy C

Hi, Donald,
Sounds as if your C. montanas have been doing what they are expected to do - cover a space quickly and densely. Typically, there isn't much pruning involved in early spring until the plants get quite overgrown, too dense, and/or straggly. At that point, they can be thinned but, in many cases (as in yours) this is a difficult task so it would be easier to renovate the plant(s). To do this, cut all stems almost to the base. Feed, mulch, and water in dry spells. Yes, you would lose flowering, but the plants should recover fairly quickly.
Kathy C

  • Posted: Mon. 23rd May 2011 20:35

Re: Re: Pruning clematis montana

Reply from Donald Hart

Hi Kathy

Many thanks for your advice. The main problem is that the fence is not really high enough to cope with their natural - not inconsiderable - growth. Hence shoots flailing around above with nothing to clasp onto. Perhaps, as you suggest, it is best to give them a fresh start by cutting right back and trying to find a little more patience than comes naturally! They are growing on a gravel bed so mulching difficult but given plenty of food and water.
Thanks again.

  • Posted: Mon. 23rd May 2011 22:29