Flower Gardening

Pruning Sweet Autumn Clematis – When & Why?

This year I am pruning sweet autumn clematis right after it finishes blooming. Decision made. When do you prune yours? For myself, I have almost always pruned in late winter or early spring when I first see green growth start on the brown and dead-looking branches. But I have decided to go rogue and this year, it is happening NOW.

I have made a video to show you the Sweet Autumn Clematis as it has been growing this year. I think it is even bigger than ever.

Sweet Autumn Clematis growing over the white fence

On a previous post about my Sweet Autumn Clematis, I showed how beautiful the plant is and how much I love it. I want to keep it in my garden. But I wanted to address pruning this type of clematis. This one self-sows from the little seedlings that are blown around the garden and it can spring up all over. It is considered invasive in some areas of the county, and it is popping up in my garden and I am pulling it each week.

Image of Pruners in Sweet Autumn clematis

As you can see in the video, it is taking over the fence and gate and I think will soon envelope the whole front length of the fence. I really don’t want it to go that far. It has previously swamped my hydrangea in that corner and is reaching for the Beautyberry Bush.

Therefore I have decided to prune it now – just after it has finished blooming instead of waiting until spring. This is my effort to keep it from invading the rest of the garden and curb its tendencies to go everywhere.

Just How Am I Pruning Sweet Autumn Clematis?

I really love the bush and want it every year. But I have to keep it under control. So I am pruning it to about three feet tall NOW, just after blooming, and I will report the results in the spring.

I don’t think I have anything to worry about since these plants are vigorous and resilient. She will come back stronger than ever. And I won’t have the brown bush on the fence all winter. I will miss that look in the snow, but the decision is made.

Pruning Sweet Autumn Clematis - I'm Doing It Now!

My YouTube Channel - Kim's Gardens

We Did It!

It only took about 15 minutes to go out and take the whole thing down.  Sharp vines clung to that fence by wrapping through the slats and up and around each other. That white fence is a vinyl material which is slick on the surface. But the Sweet Autumn Clematis found no problem climbing it all the way to the top and then going up the drain/gutter pipes too. She was even wrapped around the cable wire!

image of Final results from pruning sweet autumn clematis

I snipped with pruners while my husband used the lopers and we both pulled and yanked and we got it down. Seeds blew as we did this so I know I will still have a lot of sprouts. These seeds seem very tiny fuzzy whirly-gigs. I suppose I am looking at the right thing.  Not as pretty as the seeds on my Jackmanii, though.

When do you prune your Sweet Autumn Clematis? I have another one growing by the garage. A rogue Sweet Autumn and the Jackmanii. Those I will wait and cut down when they are frozen brown by the weather. We’ll see what happens.

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8 Comments

  1. Marsha Parker says:

    Yes, I trim Sweet Autumn Clematis often, that is whenever it gets out of control. It seems to come back even better/bigger after trimming every time as I am in Zone 6a. Have trimmed in every season and it always comes back. Very hardy plant that doesn’t give up!

    1. So true! So lush and pretty no matter what you do. A the scent is wonderful!

  2. I live in NW Indiana and have this vine growing next to my detached garage. It is just lovely every late summer to watch it bloom. The only problem I ran into was a few years ago, my neighbor’s house caught fire and burned down. It was near enough to my garage to catch the roof on fire and the heat was intense enough, the dried clematis vine sprang into flames. The firemen were standing right there when it happened and sprayed it down. This was in April 2018, just as we were all cleaning up our gardens getting ready for Spring.) Fortunately, they’ve rebuilt their home and I learned to clean up the clematis a little in the Faljust in case. Fortunately, also my house did not catch fire, though my shutters on one window melted.

    1. Oh my, what a terrible lesson with that fire. I never even thought about it being a fire hazard in some areas. but that dry twisted clump would go up in flames. Glad you were not injured or worse.Sounds like best to trim in fall for you. (or anyone, you never know when a fire could occur.)

  3. Caryn Toney says:

    I wanted to share my sweet autumn clematis picture with you but don’t see the option.
    It was beautiful this year! I was obsessed with it. I’m going to trim mine to, in the next few weeks. Thanks for the info!

  4. Michaele Anderson says:

    Yep, I’m with you and your timing. This is the 3rd year I have taken it pretty much down to the ground after the flowers have faded. The reseeding aspect got to be more trouble than the plant in bloom was worth. So, I went with the drastic approach and, as you have guessed, it has proven plenty vigorous in its ability to recover.

    1. I am so glad to hear that since this will be the first year I have taken it down after blooming. I know it can recover. I pull shoots all the time and they just grow back.

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