Pruning clematis flowers

Guide to Winter-Pruning Clematis

Of all the late-season garden chores, pruning is both the most important and the most feared. Many gardeners put off pruning until spring, when it’s too late to do any real good. But winter pruning, while it may seem daunting, is actually quite easy once you know what you’re doing.

This guide will show you how to winter-prune your clematis so that it blooms more abundantly come spring.

Why You Should Winter-Prune Your Clematis

Clematis are called the “queen of vines” for a reason. They’re absolutely beautiful, with large flowers that come in a variety of colors. But if you don’t prune them correctly, they can become overgrown and produce fewer flowers. Winter pruning encourages new growth and more flowers, so it’s worth taking the time to do it right.

When to Prune Your Clematis

The best time to prune your clematis is in late winter, after the threat of frost has passed but before new growth begins. This is typically sometime in February in most parts of the country. Pruning any later than this can reduce the number of flowers you’ll get in the spring.

How to Prune Your Clematis

There are two types of clematis. Those that bloom on new wood (such as ‘Albatross’) and those that bloom on old wood (such as ‘Jackmanii’). It’s important to know which type you have before you start pruning, as the two types require different approaches.

If you have a clematis that blooms on new wood, such as ‘Albatross’, then you should prune it back hard in late winter, cutting all the stems back to about 12 inches above the ground. This may seem drastic, but don’t worry – clematis are very resilient plants and will quickly recover from this type of pruning.

Blooming Jackmanii clematis.

If you have a clematis that blooms on old wood, such as ‘Jackmanii’, then you should only lightly prune it in late winter, removing any dead or damaged stems and trimming back any wayward growth. Be careful not to cut into the old wood, as this can damage the plant and reduce flowering.


Winter pruning may seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually quite easy once you know what you’re doing. Following these simple tips, you’ll have gorgeous blooms that will add beauty and life to your home all season long.