March is a busy time for the gardener as the days lengthen and temperatures begin to rise. There is plenty of cutting back and tidying up to do in the garden and the vegetable patch to get it ready for the summer harvest.
Late flowering clematis will be starting to shoot and can be cut hard back this month. Many gardeners are worried about how to prune clematis but there are a few simple rules to follow that should allow the plants to be at their best. The clematis family is divided into three groups for pruning according to when they flower. The first group are the early blooming species, these start to flower by May, with some beginning as early as February. This group should be pruned in June after flowering so leave them alone for the moment.
The second group are the large flowered hybrids and include popular varieties such as ‘Nelly Moser’. ‘Niobe’ and The President’. They begin the flower in June and often have a smaller flush in August or September. They flower on wood made the previous year and need to be lightly pruned in March, with stems taken back to just above a strong shoot a third or half way down. Dead or weak stems can be taken out at the same time. The flowers produced later in the summer are usually smaller and double species will almost always produce single blooms the second time around.
The third and final group are the late flowering species and these are the easiest to deal with. They begin flowering in July and later, on wood made in the current year and are simply cut back to a strong shoot just above the ground in March.