My sweet autumn clematis grows on my patio fence and is a rapid grower as you know. This is its third year and it is not looking so good this year; lots of dead undergrowth showing. It's been a real showstopper two previous years but this year not so much. I think it needs help and I am having a hard time finding out how to care for it. The fence is 6-7 feet high and the vine has grown to the top and along the top at a corner. Everything I can find gives different formulas for when and how much to cut back, you are the final arbiter.
Sweet autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) is a vigorous vine which blooms on the current season growth. Prune it as hard as you want to in late February through mid March. If yours has gotten woodier, it needs a severe haircut—removing at least half. It usually thrives on neglect and seems to bloom unimpeded in full sun to partial shade. It has lovely, fragrant white flowers in late summer, but freely reseeds itself and roots where it is allowed to ramble, so contain it.
I have an overgrown clematis vine. Do I cut the vine back at the end of the season?
It depends on which clematis you are growing. If you have one that blooms all summer you prune before growth begins in the spring. If yours only blooms in the spring, you allow it to bloom and then prune in late spring, but pruning back in the fall shouldn't be a great option for either one. Then there is the sweet autumn clematis that blooms late summer through fall and it typically dies back during the winter.
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