Clematis are beautiful and popular climbing plants for the garden, and it's easy to see why. They climb up fences, arches, pergolas and obelisks, and there are a range of flower colours and shapes to choose from. Different clematis flower at different times, and by choosing several different types, you can enjoy flowers from late winter to early autumn.


Pruning clematis can keep your clematis flowering abundantly, but it can be daunting.

Clematis are classified into three groups depending on when they flower. They are each pruned in different ways.

All new clematis plants can be pruned back to about 30cm in their first spring – this will encourage lots of strong stems.

If you are unsure about which clematis you have in your garden, be guided by when it flowers, and prune accordingly.

You may need to gently detach your clematis from its support before pruning.

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Clematis tangutica
© Rachel Warne

Pruning clematis: Pruning group 1 clematis

Clematis Armandii 'Apple Blossom'
Clematis Armandii 'Apple Blossom' © Jason Ingram

Group 1 clematis flowering time: late winter and spring.

Pruning group 1 clematis: These only need pruning to remove damaged stems and to reduce their size if needed, after flowering. Group 1 clematis includes Clematis montana.

If you need to rejuvenate an overgrown plant, you can cut it down hard, although you will lose flowers for a few years.

What clematis are in Group 1?

Clematis in Group 1 include:

  • Clematis alpina spp.
  • Clematis armandii spp.
  • Clematis montana ssp.
  • Clematis cirrhosa spp.
  • Clematis 'Early Sensation'
  • Clematis 'Apple Blossom'
  • Clematis 'Broughton Star'

Discover 14 of the best winter flowering clematis.

Read our guide to the best Clematis montana to grow.

Pruning clematis: Pruning group 2 clematis

Clematis 'Niobe'
Clematis 'Niobe' © Getty Images

Group 2 clematis flowering time: large flowers in May and June.

Pruning group 2 clematis: Cut each stems back to a pair of fat buds in February. You can also cut back the plant after flowering to encourage a second flush of flowers later in the summer.

What clematis are in Group 2?

Popular Group 2 clematis include:

Clematis 'Daniel Deronda'
Clematis 'Dr Ruppel'
Clematis 'Nelly Moser'
Clematis 'Vyvyan Pennell'
Clematis 'Guernsey Cream'
Clematis 'Niobe'

Pruning clematis: Pruning group 3 clematis

Clematis 'Princess Diana'
Clematis 'Princess Diana' © Jason Ingram

Group 3 clematis flowering time: flowers from late June to early autumn, often with smaller, bell-shaped flowers.

Pruning Group 3 clematis: Remove all growth to a pair of buds about 30cm from the ground in February or early March. The first time you do this can be unsettling – especially when you can see new growth appearing further up the stems you are cutting off. But hold your nerve, cut the whole plant down and a few months later you will have lots of young, fresh, vigorous growth covered in buds and flowers. If you don't prove, the plant will become tangled, with few flowers.

What clematis are in Group 3?

Popular Group 3 clematis include:

  • Clematis viticella types
  • Clematis jackmanii
  • Clematis tangutica
  • Clematis 'Étiole Violette'
  • Clematis 'Polish Spirit'
  • Clematis 'Princess Diana'
  • Clematis 'Princess Kate'

Read about the best late-flowering clematis to grow.


A former nurseryman, John now spends most of his time nurturing his own garden in the foothills of the French Pyrenees. He is Gardens Adviser to Glyndebourne and currently has gardening projects in the UK, Spain and France.