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When can I cut clematis down without killing it?

(12 Posts)
CarlaJones Sun 09-Aug-15 11:44:01

I've got three lovely clematis plants growing up our fence on one side that have been there for years. The fence really needs to be replaced though. Bits of it are broken and one panel with no clematis has completely blown down. Behind the fence is an overgrown no man's land and then the neighbour has their own fence, so privacy not an issue. Anyway, it looks unsightly and probably isn't impressing the neighbours on the other side too much who can see across. I think I'd need to cut my beautiful in bloom clematis plants right down for the fence to be built. Detaching the trellis and bending it back would probably get in the fence builders way and damage them anyway. When can I cut them down without killing them? I'm quite fond of them. I suppose the fence builder might have difficulty if I left it too late as the ground might get too soft.

DoreenLethal Sun 09-Aug-15 11:51:53

Usually you cut things down when they are dormant, however I have found Clematis to grow back no matter when you cut it back.

If you know the variety it will help as there are different types.

Nonnainglese Sun 09-Aug-15 11:53:39

If they're flowering now and the job has to be done then there's no option. They're pretty resilient anyway so shouldn't be a problem so long as cut back to about 2'? Or cut off higher and carefully tie them back to a stake?

CarlaJones Sun 09-Aug-15 12:52:25

Thanks for your replies. Doreen, I can't remember the names, but I remember that one had a latin name and one had a modern name. I believe that makes a difference in how hard you prune them. One I can't remember, but it has little yellow bell shaped flowers.

Ferguson Sun 09-Aug-15 19:37:09

Bell shaped flowers could be clematis Alpina, but there could be dozens, if not hundreds, in that category.

Here is the British Clematis Society which may be of help; makes interesting reading anyway:

And this also has pruning information:

CarlaJones Sun 09-Aug-15 22:29:15

Thanks Ferguson

StaceyAndTracey Mon 10-Aug-15 12:41:24

Does the yellow bell shaped one have fluffy seed heads now ?

CarlaJones Mon 10-Aug-15 12:44:19

Not yet, but it will do. It's still blooming at the moment.

StaceyAndTracey Mon 10-Aug-15 12:45:51

If you can't remember any of their names or identify them, the best rule of thumb is " if it flowers before June, don't prune " .

You can still prune them to keep in shape or within the area of your support, but do it after flowering

The large flowered late summer ones do need pruned back to two feet or so in early spring . Otherwise all the flowers will be at the top , with a tangle of stems below .

funnyperson Mon 10-Aug-15 18:18:09

If your fence people are like our fence people the clematis will be over by the time they come round and probably quite safe to prune therefore.

CarlaJones Mon 10-Aug-15 19:11:05

Good point Funny.
Stacey. None of them flowered before June. I do always prune them in Spring. Just found a label for the pink one and it's Comtesse de Bouchard. I prune that and the yellow one to about knee length in spring and the purple one I hard prune to about an inch as per Alan Titchmarsh book as it just had a Latin name I remember. It seems to suit it very well. It looks lovely at the moment.

CarlaJones Mon 10-Aug-15 19:13:12

The pink and purple ones are about thirteen years old.

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