Q: When and how is best way to prune my two clematis? Both are older vines, one purple and the other white.
A: I called upon the experience of my colleague Erica Glasener for the answer to your question.
She says the main reason to prune clematis is to encourage plants to produce a maximum amount of blooms. The question of when to prune is determined by whether the particular clematis blooms on second year wood (growth from the previous season) or on new growth and, further, if it blooms early or late.
Even without pruning, your clematis will still bloom but perhaps not as profusely. Try to purchase named varieties of clematis. This will make it easier to determine what it requires in terms of its environment and pruning.
Here are some simple tips:
Early blooming clematis: Prune lightly in early spring so as not to destroy the dormant flower buds.
Late blooming clematis: Prune hard in early spring so the plant can produce strong growth on which blooms will develop later.
If an early blooming clematis has developed into a tangled mess, cut it down to below the tangle now. Close to the ground is fine but don’t cut into the larger woody stems. Your clematis should recover by the end of the growing season and produce good blooms next year.
Local garden expert Daryl Pulis (www.MrsGreenThumb.com) says you should look at Fine Gardening and click on the link of the most popular cultivars.
Then see www.clematisnursery.com for some excellent Clematis pruning pictures.
There’s more good information on pruning here at the University of Missouri.