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Vines/clematis vine

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Question
For some reason, both of my clematis plants got off to a very fast start this spring  They are now well above the top of the trellis and beginning to curl on the inside of my awning
Would it be harmful (or helpful) to start pruning the tops of these vines for control?

Thanks for your help

Carl Meyers     Wexford PA

Answer
Hi Carl -

Short answer: for controlling the vine's growth habit, you can probably prune the tops whenever you like.

Long answer: In general, the timing for pruning clematis (in terms of truly cutting them back and shaping them) really depends on what kind of clematis you have. There are three pruning groups, but the best rule of thumb is to prune them right after they've finished blooming. Pruning the tops of the vines for control purposes is probably okay now, but just know that you might be cutting back some of the buds. Here is a helpful web site for determining which group your clematis is in.
http://gardening.about.com/od/perennials/a/PruningClematis.htm

That said, I have a spring-blooming clematis, and although the "rule" is to prune this plant in July, I typically wait until later in the year and the vine just keeps chugging along, producing flowers just fine.
Hope this helps.

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Kathleen Franklin

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I can answer all kinds of questions about vines that thrive in most U.S. soils/climates, though I am more knowledgeable about Zones 4-8. I am a huge fan of vines (even the sort of "Look out, Martha, here it comes again" varieties), especially wisteria, climbing hydrangea, Carolina jessamine, and (invasive though it is) English Ivy. I grow them all, and would love to share what I've learned with you!

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I am a certified, active Master Gardener in Maryland (Montgomery County) and have six+ years experience working at a local garden nursery. I've been gardening for more than 20 years and have done consulting work for many residential homeowners on all aspects of gardening and garden design.

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Maryland Master Gardeners Friends of Brookside Gardens Nature Conservancy

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I have authored numerous nature and gardening-related articles for publications ranging from Audubon Naturalist News to Washington Gardener magazine.

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I have taken courses in Integrated Pest Management, perennials, shrubs, and vines.

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