autumn clematis

ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5March 25, 2012

i believe.. last year.. you peeps told me i could whack it to the ground in spring .. and still end up with a monster ...

and i actually planned on doing such..

but it bolted .. and now has 6 to 8 inch new growth all over it.. only 4 to 6 weeks early ..

can i still do it.. or should i hold off???

or is it simply one of those things .... where i can run it over the truck .. machete is at will .... etc ...


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MollyDog(6 PA)

You can definitely still whack it back...go for it!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 3:19PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

or maybe i will wait for the killing frost/freeze .... and do it then .. lol ..


    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 4:17PM
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Horrid thing. It is the bane of my existence.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 1:47AM
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monarda wrote: Horrid thing. It is the bane of my existence.

I can imagine someone thinking this about SAC but in the right situation (basically lots of space) it can be a spectacular plant.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 10:40AM
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I've cut mine back as late as early June in order to control the rampant growth and make it a little less "wild" by Autumn. Doesn't diminish the bloom at all, since the flower initiation is influenced by declining day length. Just makes the plant shorter, same principle as pinching mums or fall asters.

The freeze tonight may do it for you if it gets cold enough. I'm sure the new growth would survive 28/29, but 21 or 22 might zap it. It will grow right back.

Interesting, I always thought this species was truly herbaceous, and died to the roots each year. All 3 of my plants did NOT die back over this mild winter, but are sprouting all up and down the old growth. I'll probably cut them back anyway, since they are a jumbled mess and would be enormous by fall.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 8:47PM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)'s my 2 cents worth. Was new to this plant a year of so ago. But found article in Garden Gate that says there are 3 (maybe even 4??) different varieties which all need different 'tending'. They speak of "old wood" and "new wood." Some you prune, some you don't. Some you prune "THIS" way...some "THAT" way. They had pics of the blooms, pics of the growth, how to cut...etc.

It got so complicated that I gave up. I couldn't tell one type of pruning from the other, much less which type of plant I had. So I asked my "plant guru"....who had given me my 2 plants and she said..."just cut them down."

However, she has one against lattice that she never touches and it comes back beautiful every year.

So here's my take on it. I thought I should leave the "old wood"...but it got accidently cut down to the ground. Nevertheless, it came back, crawled up my lattice (had to train it). But was never really FULL.

The other one I transplanted so had to cut down before I could dig up. Watched it grow new last year for first time. Again, had to train it up trellis. Was pretty, but again, not full.

However this year, out of neglectfulness, I left the old wood on both and they both have much new growth on the old part as well as out of the ground. So I chose not to cut then back.

So my take on this is (and by no means am I an expert)-- cut it or don't cut WILL come back.

I'm guessing, from watching the one across the street that no one does anything to...that the purpose of leaving the old wood is that it DOES produce on that so it fills in more. And since you also get new growth from the ground, you eventually get a much thicker plant if you're trying to train it up a trellis or something like that.

And that's my story and I'm sticking to

Anyone feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. Would love to learn more since I am still totally confused from the magazine's directions.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 12:03AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

brit5467 - there are basically 3 different pruning techniques for different types of Clematis depending on when they flower. Within each pruning group there are many different cultivars and species. It sounds as if yours are some of the large flowered hybrids. Ken asked about Sweet Autumn Clematis which is C ternifolia. It is a rampant grower. Since it flowers in late summer/autumn (Group 3) it can be pruned in early spring without affecting that seasons flowers. The link relates to the UK where February is OK for group 3 but it might need to be later in colder regions.

Clematis will survive fine with no pruning at all but after a couple of seasons the flowers will end up at the top while the bottom of the plant will be just a twiggy tangle. Some will also end up covering many square yards e.g. C montana

Here is a link that might be useful: Pruning clematis

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 4:22AM
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grinder12000(4 now 5 I guess)

I have three Sweet Autumn Clematis and love them. In Garden Gate last year I had the tip of the month with an excel spreadsheet with bloom times for every plant . . ANYWAY last year they poked their head out of the dirt the 1st week of June and grew on average 3 inches a day.

They are up already in Wisconsin. I love them. Spectacular plant, no bugs at all. I cut mine back to about 6 inches.

I see no problem if you want to cut yours back now!!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 12:37PM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

Ah ha...thanks Flora - as you can see, I don't know much about them which was why Garden Gate totally confused Especially since it was given to me so I have no idea what type it is, other than you're right - it is a large bloom.

I remember posting pics last year and no one could give me a definite so I will post again and maybe YOU will know :)

Your link will be helpful. I get what you mean about it growing at top and looking bad at bottom. After looking at my pics and considering that was the first year (this will be 2nd) -- do you think I should just leave the old wood? I'd say the wood now has about 15 or twenty places with leaves. It also now has the same amount of new growth at bottom that ulimately turned into what you see in pic.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 1:51PM
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This is definitely type II. It would still benefit of hard pruning for at least a couple of years. And of pinching new growth several times. You will get much more bushy plant with the strong roots this way.
Most of type II Clematis bloom on new wood too in our zone, so you can still see it blooming this year.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 2:03PM
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Brit5467, the picture you have posted is of a large-flowered clematis, the beautiful and desirable tame kind, perhaps Hagely Hybrid. These are fine plants, deserveably popular.

Sweet Autumn clematis, on the other hand, has tiny white flowers and blooms for about a week in Sept. I find it very beautiful growing in swamps and vacant lots. If only it would stay there!

As a garden plant, it loves me and I do not love it. I find the seedlings coming up everywhere and the roots are woody and tenacious, sending up plants many feet around all summer long. No matter how diligently I try to root them out, they keep coming back.

Here is a link that might be useful: This is Sweet Autumn Clematis

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 2:14PM
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This is NOT Hagely Hybrid. HH has dark/burgundy stamen.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 3:35PM
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Ken - Due to all the ridiculous early warmth we've been having, my
Sweet Autumn Clematis were already swarming with new growth. . .
so I cut them all back two weeks ago! And I know, from past experience,
that I could whack them all down again in four to six weeks if the
spirit moved me, and there would STILL be abundant bloom. There
was one season I ripped a huge clump out of the ground in early March,
moved and pruned it, and then had to move and prune it again in late
May that year - but it STILL bloomed prodigiously! You can, of course,
leave it alone, and it will still bloom, but as someone else has pointed out,
primarily at the outer ends. SAC rates as one of the tougher plants to kill,
so have at it!


    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 4:41PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Definitely not Hagley Hybrid. ALL Clematis benefit from hard pruning the first few years to encourage more vines up from the crown. Otherwise they can grow long and scraggly.

SAC is in a different league as far as Clematis go. It is a monster. You can cut it back now or leave it, up to you.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 2:14PM
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