Prune Clematis, Honeysuckle and Wisteria
Unlike most climbing plants, Clematis can’t be kept healthy simply by dead heading. Dead heading, of course is part of the process but there’s more to pruning Clematis plants than meets the eye. Prune new Clematis to around 15-30cm from ground level to avoid straggly single stem plants. Prune during February and March and cut just above a bud.
Clematis plants are difficult to prune simply because there isn’t a set rule for every type. It varies between varieties but this can be easily solved once you know when your Clematis plant flowers. Find out whether your Clematis flowers on old wood, on both old wood and new growth produced during the current season or those that flower only on new growth during the pruning season.
These Clematis plants flower on old wood during spring. You can leave these Clematis plants until they start to outgrow their space. They need sufficient space so cut out congested branches to clear some room. You can also take sufficient branches back to where they meet the main trunk to give your Clematis more room to flourish.
These Clematis plants flower on old wood and new growth during spring and early summer. Prune this Clematis by cutting out all the damaged, dead and weak growth. Remove any wood that’s making the Clematis congested, cutting back to a pair of buds.
These Clematis plants flower on new growth during late summer. Cut back these Clematis plants in winter or early spring to the first pair of buds above the ground.
Wisteria needs regular pruning to produce healthy new growth. Prune your Wisteria twice a year, once in summer and once in January or February. Pruning wisteria is a two stage operation; firstly you should cut back the new growth each summer to about four leaves and reduce this even further in winter.
The pruning itself doesn’t take long. Simply cut back any whippy new growth to around four leaves in summer after it has flowered. In winter you should cut back the same growths to two or three buds.
Climbers like honeysuckle don’t need to be pruned very often to produce plenty of blooms. Honeysuckle needs to be pruned in two different ways, if you are pruning on the current year’s growth you don’t need to prune as regularly but make sure you cut back all stems in winter to allow for new growth the following season.
If the climber gets overcrowded remove about one third of the oldest stems, cutting back to near ground level. Honeysuckles that flower on the previous year’s growth should have old growth that has flowered cut back to a newer shoot produced lower down on the stem.
Sometimes, when Honeysuckle is grown on a trellis of limited height, the plant will become sparse on the base and the flowers will grow too high. Your plant will be tangled and you should prune any dead or badly placed shoots to combat this. Remember not to prune too harshly as this will send your Honeysuckle into shock and cause a loss of flowers.