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Pruning Clematis in Early Spring

How to prune a clematis vine in the spring.

We have a purple clematis that climbs up the south side of our screen porch. It's a summer-blooming variety, so I prune it in the spring. (Spring-blooming clematis are usually pruned the previous fall.)

purple clematis

I worked my way up from the bottom, clipping off dead wood right next to emerging buds. I was wearing my Womanswork "Digger" garden gloves  (in teal blue).

pruning clematis

When working with a tangle of vines and leaves and side shoots, it's easy to make the mistake of cutting vines that you wish you hadn't. I know because I did it one year. This time I was careful to untangle the long vines to separate them from the little side shoots that attach themselves to them. Some of the side shoots that wrap their tendrils around the longer vines are worth keeping because they provide support.

pruning clematis

I use teacup hooks to hold the vines to the side of the house.

pruning clematis
pruning clematis

pruning clematis

After I finish my pruning it looks much neater and the buds will have more air and light to help them grow. There is nothing more for me to do but wait until June to see the beautiful deep purple flowers. Last year, according to my garden notebook, our clematis was blooming the last week in June, but this year it may bloom earlier. So far, everything else in my garden is happening a lot earlier than last year.

Read common clematis questions and answers.


Dorian Winslow is the president of Womanswork, and is passionate about making the best products on the market for women who garden and work outdoors.

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