Pruning my single Clematis

Is it strange that somebody so fanatic about plants, tending a garden packed with so many different species, has only a single Clematis vine?


Is it even stranger that this single Clematis wasn't even planted by me, that it was a volunteer? Maybe, but that's the case in my garden (at least for another week or two -- but that's another story), and today I'll talk about pruning this vine.


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As you may have guessed, this is Clematis ternifolia or "Sweet Autumn Clematis".


I know this is considered to be invasive in many parts of the country, but it doesn't seem to be a problem around here. Yes, this grew as a volunteer, but that was 8 or more years ago and I've not seen any others growing nearby even though I've let it go to seed every year. Perhaps the deer are eating them? (They certainly don't eat the invasive bush honeysuckle, honeysuckle vine, or wild grape vines that are a problem here.)

So back to the plant in my garden. As you can see, there is new growth -- this plant is waking up!



So my timing is right to chop this down!  It's such a vigorous grower, it can be pruned almost to the ground, and still put out 10-20' (3-6m) of new growth in a year. It flowers on new wood too, so no worries about not seeing the fall blooms due to pruning.

There's actually a bit more new growth than I want -- I should have done this pruning a bit earlier I think:


No worries though, plenty of time for the vine to recover.

First I removed lots of the middle vines, cutting to a couple of feet above ground or so:


The mass of greenery at the top is now detached from the plant, and needs to be yanked down:


So I'm left with an empty (ugly) trellis, and some short, woody vines near the ground:

There's some bamboo growing in there -- hard to reach.


It won't be long before these start smothering the support, providing the deer with fresh foliage to munch. I'll have to ensure some of the vines go up the inside of the trellis so the deer won't get them all.

I was considering planting a "Sweet Summer Love" Clematis here instead (or intermixed as a companion), but that variety is brand-new, difficult to find, and expensive -- especially if deer will be eating lots of it. I think I'll wait another year or two before adding one of those.

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Lisa  – (April 17, 2013 at 11:34 AM)  

I love "Sweet Summer Love". I've been contemplating some new clematis is a couple spots, including one along our waterfall. If I can find one of these, that's going to be my choice! Sounds delicious!

Alan  – (April 17, 2013 at 11:44 AM)  

Lisa: do you grow "Sweet Summer Love" already? I'm curious how much longer its blooming season is. I may still try to find one.

Gerhard Bock (Bamboo, Succulents and More)  – (April 17, 2013 at 12:09 PM)  

Your post was a reminder that I also have a single clematis, somewhere behind a clump of Alphonse Karr bamboo. I'm not even sure it's still there, but I will check.

I love clematis flowers. Everytime I see one in bloom I ask myself why I don't have them all over the fence...

Barbie  – (April 19, 2013 at 4:40 AM)  

I always get nervous with pruning - but the plants seem to love it!
I love Clematis - I always seem to be drawn to them. Can't wait for the full bloom post!

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