Types Of Clematis Plants: What Clematis Variety Do I Have

There are a couple of ways to classify clematis. One is by pruning group, and the other is as an evergreen or tender vine. There are also bush clematis plants, which are different than the vine variety. Whichever type you choose to grow, you can’t do better than a glorious clematis color show in your garden.

Clematis is a familiar flowering plant with a great diversity of form, color and complexity. The plants have different bloom sites, so pruning by Class is important. Additionally, it is best to know if you have a bush or vine clematis, as support needs will vary and they should be trained when young. For year around greenery, an evergreen clematis can’t be beat.

What Clematis Variety Do I Have?

You may have inherited a plant and have no idea what kind is in your garden. This happens to new home owners quite frequently and they have to wing it on the care and pruning of the plant. The pruning class is the most important to know. This is because different types of

clematis bloom off of different levels of growth.

Class 1 clematis bloom off of old wood while Class 3 plants bloom off of new wood. The Class 2 clematis bloom off both old and new wood and produce blooms twice in the season. That’s why it’s important to know the pruning class or you may prune your clematis at the wrong time and cut off the wood that was supposed to produce the magnificent flowers. If in doubt, you will have to experiment by trimming at least a couple of vines and then watching to see if they bloom.

Clematis Varieties by Form

The classic climbing clematis vines are probably most familiar to gardeners. However, there are also bush clematis plants that grow as shrubs or in upright forms. These grow 20 inches to 3 feet depending on species. Mongolian Snowflakes, Tube and Fremont’s clematis are examples of these.

Trailing or rock garden clematis produce stems that crawl along the soil surface and make attractive ground covers. Some clematis varieties in this form would be Ground, Mongolian Gold and Sugarbowl.

Beautiful but easy to grow climbing clematis vines such as Bees Jubilee, with mauve blooms, or C. macropetala, with blue flowers, produce blooms up to 5 inches across. Crimson Ville de Lyon and magenta C. viticella ‘Grandiflora Sanguinea’ will add vibrancy and punch to the landscape.

Evergreen Forms of Clematis

Cultural care of evergreen clematis is similar to deciduous forms. The beauty of these hardy vines is their glossy arrow-shaped leaves, which persist year around and form vibrant shields and accents. Evergreen clematis bloom in late winter to early spring and in temperate climates is one of the first vines to flower.

The variety is Armand’s clematis and it produces heavenly white blooms with a gentle fragrance. Evergreen clematis is in pruning group 1. As with other climbing clematis vines, the plant will require training and support but is otherwise a no fuss alternative to the deciduous varieties.

How to Grow Clematis Indoors

Clematis is a climbing vine that offers an abundance of colorful flowers during the late spring and early summer. Clematis are grouped according to their pruning requirements with Pruning Group Two being the most ideal choice for indoor container gardening as these plants require the least amount of pruning. With the right amount of light, good soil and fertilization, your indoor clematis plants will grow beautifully year round.

Select a container to grow your clematis indoors that’s at least 18 inches deep and 12 inches in diameter. If you have room for a larger planter in your home, your clematis will appreciate the extra space. Make sure that the container drains well.

Add a layer of gravel to the bottom of the container. Fill the container with potting soil, up to within 8 inches from the rim.

Select a type of clematis that grows well in containers such as Sugar Candy, Madame Julia Correvon, Niobe or Snow Queen. The professionals at your local nursery can guide you in your selection.

Plant the rootball of your clematis plant in the center of the container and fill in over and around it with more potting soil, up to 3 inches from the top of the planter. Clematis roots like to remain cool, so make sure that the root ball is about 5 inches beneath the soil line in your planter.

Add the support pillar or teepee shaped structure to the inside edges of the container. If your clematis is very young, you may only need a small structure until it begins to grow. When your plant is long enough, wrap it around the support structure to help it get started. As it grows, continue to wrap the plant around the support.

Add a 2-inch layer of organic mulch to help the roots stay cool. Water the clematis well and place it in an area of your home that receives at least six hours of sun each day. You can substitute artificial grow lights for sunshine, just make sure that your plant receives enough light or the clematis will not bloom.

Water your clematis heavily during the spring and summer, keeping the soil moist. During the winter, do not water as much, just enough to keep the plant from drying out.

Fertilize your clematis with water soluble fertilizer in the spring every third watering, until the buds appear. Stop fertilizing until the flowering stops, and begin again through late summer.

Prune your clematis based on the recommendations of the particular pruning group your cultivar belongs to. Group One clematis require removing all of the dead and dying stems after the blooming period, Group Two needs very little pruning, just remove the dead wood as needed, and Group Three requires that the plant be pruned down to the ground at the end of winter or beginning of spring.

Types of Clematis

There are many different types of Clematis with more varieties being bred all the time to develop ever more attractive flowers. Because there are so many to choose from it is worth looking at different images to decide what you like, when you want the Clematis to flower and which flower shapes appeal to you. There are Clematis which are in flower all the year round from Clematis Cirrhosa Freckles, illustrated above center, which is winter flowering through to clematis tangutica ‘bill mackenzie’ which is late summer flowering and has lovely fluffy seed heads, image above right.

There are 10 different flower shapes in the Clematis group: single large flowers, double large flowers, C, Montana, C. Viticella, saucer shaped, star shaped, open bell shaped, bell shaped, tulip shaped and tubular.

The size and growth of Clematis varies greatly as well. In the image above left is the lovely C. Crystal fountain a variety bred for growing in small spaces, patios and containers as it only grows to around 1.8 m with very attractive flowers. Compare to C montana, which is a very vigorous Clematis, and grows 5-14m depending on the conditions.

Clematis are classified in three groups.

Group 1 are the early flowering types C. alpina, C. macropetala which have single, or double bell shaped flowers and C. montana, with large saucer shaped flowers and is one of the most popular Clematis to grow and easy. These are all no prune Clematis.

Group 2 are Clematis which flower early to mid summer and sometimes with a second flush mid to late summer. This group of Clematis have upright single, double saucer shaped flowers and are often very showy, such as the C. Crystal fountain.

Group 3 are the later flowering clematis which have large saucer shaped flowers in summer and early autumn. Within this group there are also small flowering Clematis which a variety of flower shapes, saucer, star shaped, bell and open bell and also tulip and tubular.

Information on how to plant and grow Clematis.

Why Clematis Is Not Blooming: Tips On Getting Clematis To Flower

A happy, healthy clematis vine produces an amazing mass of colorful blooms, but if something isn’t quite right, you may be worried about a clematis vine not blooming. It isn’t always easy to determine why clematis is not blooming, or why in the world getting clematis to flower is sometimes such a challenge. Read on for a few possible causes.

Reasons for Non-Blooming Clematis

Figuring out why a clematis is not blooming is the first step in fixing the issue.

Fertilizer – Improper fertilization is often the reason for a non-blooming clematis. Usually, the problem isn’t lack of fertilizer, but too much, which may produce lush foliage and few blooms. As a general rule, clematis benefits from a handful of 5-10-10 fertilizer in the spring, along with a layer of compost. Apply a water-soluble fertilizer once or twice during spring and summer. Be sure the plant isn’t getting too much nitrogen, which may be the case if your clematis is located near a heavily fertilized lawn.

Age – Be patient if your clematis is new; give the plant some time to establish and develop healthy roots. Clematis can take a year or two to produce blooms and may take a bit longer to come to full maturity. On the other hand, an older plant may simply be at the end of its lifespan.

Light – “Head in the sun, feet in the shade.” This is a critical rule for healthy clematis vines. If your vine isn’t doing well, protect the roots by planting a couple of perennial plants around the base of the vine, or prop a couple of wooden shingles around the stem. If your plant has previously bloomed well, check to see if a nearby shrub or tree is blocking light. Possibly, a quick trim is needed to allow sunlight to reach the vine.

Pruning – Improper pruning is a common reason for no blooms on clematis, but it’s important to understand the needs of your particular plant. Some clematis varieties bloom on the previous year’s vines, so heavy pruning in spring will prevent new blooms from developing. Other varieties bloom on the current year’s vine, so they can be cut to the ground every spring. If you aren’t sure, don’t prune the vine until later in the spring, when you can easily determine new growth from older, dead growth. Then, prune accordingly.

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Pin


Prune Clematis for Top to Bottom Blooms, this is not a general clematis pruning guideline but how to renovate an overgrown or spindly growing one.

Again I need to repeat, this is not how you prune your clematis generally. This post is really about one way to renovate clematis that may be blooming all on top but down below is bare vines yet you don’t want to cut it all off at once. This is my Warsaw Nike clematis. It is in Group 3, a Summer bloomer that blooms on new wood on into Fall. (it is often sold as Group 2)

So let’s get to it and prune clematis for top to bottom bloom!

PIN for later

Which Clematis Pruning Group

This method will also work on Group 1 & 2, you may sacrifice some blooms on any of them the first season after the renovation prune but it will give you top to bottom blooms. In the long run you get more blooms and a prettier plant.

Note: if you have a group 1 clematis do some research on the particular named variety. Each one can have unique preferences on pruning. But if you only prune back some canes as I show here then you should be fine on most.

When to Prune Clematis

This method can be done from November on into March. I choose November as I can access mine then, come any later and the ground could be covered in snow until June.
(when starting a new garden I do so in Fall as noted in this article, Start a Lazy Gal’s Garden)

This past Summer my Warsaw only bloomed way high at the top and did not re-bloom as prolifically as years prior.

Notice the tangle at the top of the lattice and on the porch rails. If you follow it down you note the bare woody vines towards the base.

How to Prune Clematis

I start by cutting the entire top back by a third. I just used the porch floor as my guideline and cut across the tangle of vines.

This helps me to see which vines come from which canes at the bottom.

The bottom near the ground is overgrown with other plants which I need to remove to get a clear picture of the base of the clematis and what I am working with. All those plants need to be removed.

Nothing here is dear so I start yanking them out and tossing into the compost bucket. (note: if you struggle with a fungus that can kill back clematis do not compost your vines)

Clearing it all away shows me this…

There are 5 strong woody vines coming from the base and one small one that is very limber.

I pull the skinny limber one to the side so as not to accidentally cut it during my foray with the pruners.

Later you will see what I am going to do with that long skinny vine

I cut one of the thick canes back to the ground then one 12 inches from the ground.

Right now my favorite pruners are these Fiskars Bypass Pruning Shears, and for larger vines I use the Loppers (these came in really handy when I pruned back the larger canes on my Climbing Rose)

This will encourage new growth lower on the clematis. New growth is a good thing on a type 3 clematis since they bloom on new growth.

The next cane, the center one is cut at about 3 feet long.

The cane on the left is one I left longer, it goes in behind the trellis and comes out at the base of the porch floor.

The cane on the right actually goes behind the trellis and snakes over to the right side and back out around the corner, I left it to emerge from the other side but cut it back to the floor base as well.

Why Prune Clematis at Different Lengths

By cutting the canes at the different lengths I will get new growth and blooms all along the plant from the base all the way to the top.

If you only have 1 or 2 vines coming from the ground, cut it to about 6 inches from the ground. Cutting it will encourage your clematis to send up more vines from the root.

With new clematis I cut it back the first two growing seasons so it sends up lots of vines from the root.

What did I do With the Last Vine?

So what did I do with the last vine left on the ground?

I buried it along the ground, not deep, just under the soil..you can see the leaves on the left and under the bare dirt is the vine.

This will stay this way all winter and if everything goes as planned it will root in more than one spot along the vine…

like this one below…I know it doesn’t look that convincing but towards the center where there are some brownish leaves is a clematis that rooted where it touched the ground.

I will dig this up and replant it elsewhere after severing the vine from the mother plant.

This is called layering..see all about how I propagate Clematis by Layering here. You will love it!

The video attached to this post is how I spring prune my clematis.

UPDATE: to see what is happening now (Mar/Apr) with this Clematis Update on my Clematis

More Posts You May Enjoy
Spring Prune Your Clematis
Grow Clematis
Build an Easy Garden Obelisk (great for letting your clematis climb)

Happy Gardening!

Gardening | Is pruning or deadheading best for clematis? | Myrtle Beach Sun News


Recently a reader asked me whether to deadhead clematis or not. The question seems simple enough – yes or no. Surprisingly, though, the answer is not so straightforward.

Clematis bloom whether you prune them or not. Deadheading – removing dead flowers – makes some plants more floriferous, but only those that are fertile. A number of clematis hybrids are sterile, which means that deadheading has no effect on their production of blooms.

Another question to ask about clematis is whether to prune or not. Again, the vines bloom whether you prune them or not. However, the vines are tidier with more prolific blooms when they are properly pruned.

The plant tag that comes with a clematis indicates if the plant is in pruning group 1, 2 or 3, sometimes called A, B or C. The number or letter indicates how and when the plant should be pruned.

Local News at Your Fingertips

Get unlimited digital access for just $3.99 a month to #ReadLocal anytime, on any device.


If you know your clematis variety, you can readily find its pruning group online by typing the plant’s name (common or botanical) plus the words “pruning group.” If you don’t know your clematis name or pruning group number, you can easily determine what it is by watching when your plant blooms. Does it bloom spring and fall, with a large flush of blooms in the spring followed by sporadic blooms throughout the season, or only in summer or fall? You will also need to note if it blooms on last year’s woody growth or this year’s green flexible stems.

The trick to understanding your clematis is to know when it blooms and whether it blooms on new growth or old wood.

The first year after planting, all groups are pruned the same way. Late winter-early spring, cut each stem back to 5 inches from the ground. You won’t get blooms the first year, but it is worth sacrificing them for the plant’s future growth. It will produce a stronger, bushier plant in future years.

Group 1 clematis are early season bloomers. They flower with a strong flush of blooms in April and May. These clematis do not necessarily need pruning. When the plant becomes tangled and unruly, stems can be trimmed from the top and sides of the plant. Do not cut the woody main stems. Typically, these plants do not die back in the winter; they are evergreen or semi-evergreen. The plants bloom on old wood, so wait until just after flowers fade, and then prune. Give Group 1 plants time to develop the new growth that will produce next year’s flowers.

Group 2 clematis produce mid-season blooms in May – August on the previous year’s woody growth. Prune lightly after spring flowers have faded. This is the time to get rid of broken and dead wood and tangled areas, and trim the plant into shape. This group blooms again, although less vigorously, in late summer on new green growth. Group 2 includes the large, flowered, showy hybrids and cultivars. Familiar varieties include Belle of Woking, Nelly Moser and Henryi.

Group 3 produces late-season blooms on the end of new growth in late summer or early fall. Members of this group are vigorous growers and should be cut back to 12 inches from the ground in early spring. Sweet Autumn Clematis, Comptesse de Bouchaud and jackmanii are well-known group 3 members.

Each group of clematis has a specific bloom time. Neither deadheading nor pruning affects that. Heavy pruning is useful when a vine becomes too heavy for its support structure or when it becomes unkempt and straggly. Be aware that heavy pruning, in some instances, can delay bloom time a bit, and severe pruning on groups 1 and 2 can prevent blooming for a year.

Clematis are low-maintenance plants. Prune your plants at the right time just once a year to stimulate growth and blooms.

Reach DEBBIE MENCHEK, a Clemson Master Gardener, at [email protected]


This year I am pruning sweet autumn clematis right after it finishes blooming. Decision made. When do you prune yours? For myself, I have almost always pruned in late winter or early spring when I first see green growth start on the brown and dead-looking branches. But I have decided to go rogue and this year, it is happening NOW.

I have made a video to show you the Sweet Autumn Clematis as it has been growing this year. I think it is even bigger than ever.

On a previous post about my Sweet Autumn Clematis, I showed how beautiful the plant is and how much I love it. I want to keep it in my garden. But I wanted to address pruning this type of clematis. This one self-sows from the little seedlings that are blown around the garden and it can spring up all over. It is considered invasive in some areas of the county, and it is popping up in my garden and I am pulling it each week.

As you can see in the video, it is taking over the fence and gate and I think will soon envelope the whole front length of the fence. I really don’t want it to go that far. It has previously swamped my hydrangea in that corner and is reaching for the Beautyberry Bush.

Therefore I have decided to prune it now – just after it has finished blooming instead of waiting until spring. This is my effort to keep it from invading the rest of the garden and curb its tendencies to go everywhere.

Just How Am I Pruning Sweet Autumn Clematis?

I really love the bush and want it every year. But I have to keep it under control. So I am pruning it to about three feet tall NOW, just after blooming, and I will report the results in the spring.

I don’t think I have anything to worry about since these plants are vigorous and resilient. She will come back stronger than ever. And I won’t have the brown bush on the fence all winter. I will miss that look in the snow, but the decision is made.

We Did It!

It only took about 15 minutes to go out and take the whole thing down. Sharp vines clung to that fence by wrapping through the slats and up and around each other. That white fence is a vinyl material which is slick on the surface. But the Sweet Autumn Clematis found no problem climbing it all the way to the top and then going up the drain/gutter pipes too. She was even wrapped around the cable wire!

I snipped with pruners while my husband used the lopers and we both pulled and yanked and we got it down. Seeds blew as we did this so I know I will still have a lot of sprouts. These seeds seem very tiny fuzzy whirly-gigs. I suppose I am looking at the right thing. Not as pretty as the seeds on my Jackmanii, though.

When do you prune your Sweet Autumn Clematis? I have another one growing by the garage. A rogue Sweet Autumn and the Jackmanii. Those I will wait and cut down when they are frozen brown by the weather. We’ll see what happens.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *