Pruning your Clematis Montana is an essential part of its care. If it is not done, then you may find that your plant ends up with tangled stems and looks more like an unsightly mess than the beautiful floral display you had hoped for. However since Clematis are categorised into various groups, it can be difficult to know how to prune each one. So, what do you do when it comes to pruning an overgrown Clematis Montana? The Clematis Montana is a deciduous plant that is native to the Himalayan regions, Tibet and China. However, they are commonly grown in UK gardens and pruning involves cutting the plant back during the springtime. There is, of course, much more to think about rather than just getting a little too snippy with the secateurs. The following information will provide you with everything you need to know about these glorious blooms and how to take care of them.

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What Is Clematis Montana?

Clematis Montana, also known as the Mountain Clematis, is a species of flowering plant in the buttercup family. It is known for its vigorous growth and profusion of blossoms that cover its foliage in late spring to early summer, creating a captivating display. The flowers of Clematis Montana are typically white and can have a vanilla fragrance at times. This plant is part of Clematis Pruning Group 1, which means it does not require regular pruning. However, if it becomes too large or leggy, it can be cut back after flowering in the spring.

Group 1 clematis including Montana will flower from late winter into early spring. There is a lot of debate over how much they need to be pruned but as a general rule of thumb, they really don’t need much. They flower from the growth of the previous season.

Do I Need to Prune My Clematis Montana?

While plants in group 1 tend to need the least amount of pruning, some care is required to prevent the stems from becoming heavily tangled. One of the biggest problems that an unpruned Clematis Montana will display is flower placement. Typically, you will want even blooms across the entire plant and this is possible when they are well-maintained. However, the moment you leave them to go wild, you will notice that most of the blooms are contained to the uppermost part of the plant with the base being relatively bare.

How to Prune a Clematis Montana?

Pruning Clematis Montana is relatively straightforward because it belongs to Pruning Group 1, which means it does not require regular pruning.

Step 1: Post-Flowering Assessment

  • Timing: Wait until Clematis Montana has finished its flowering period in spring before starting the pruning process. This is typically after the blooms have faded and before the new growth cycle begins.
  • Plant Inspection: Carefully inspect the entire plant, looking for any dead, damaged, or diseased stems. These are the first to be removed to maintain plant health.

Step 2: Selective Pruning for Size and Shape

  • Identify Stems: Choose the stems that are overreaching or disrupting the desired shape of the plant. These will be the targets for your pruning cuts.
  • Pruning Cuts: Make your cuts above a pair of healthy buds, approximately 15-30 cm from the ground, depending on the overall size of the plant. This encourages new growth lower down on the plant.

Step 3: Rejuvenation of Older Plants

  • Assess Old Growth: On mature Clematis Montana plants, identify the oldest, woodiest stems, which may no longer produce vigorous growth or abundant flowers.
  • Hard Pruning: Cut back up to one-third of these old stems right down to the base to stimulate new shoots. This will not harm the plant but will encourage a flush of fresh growth and rejuvenation.

Step 4: Maintenance After Pruning

  • Fertilisation: After pruning, give the plant a balanced, slow-release fertiliser to support new growth.
  • Mulching: Apply a generous layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant. This will help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and provide a slow release of nutrients.

Step 5: Regular Monitoring

  • Growth Check: In the weeks following pruning, monitor the Clematis Montana for new growth. This will help you assess the success of your pruning and the health of the plant.
  • Support Structures: Ensure that any trellises or supports are in good condition to handle the new growth. Repair or reinforce as necessary.

In most cases, an established Clematis Montana will be a vigorous and hardy plant that will need nothing more than light shearing. Again, this will need to be done after the plant has finished flowering in mid to late spring.

How to Prune An Overgrown Clematis Montana?

Pruning an overgrown Clematis montana requires a bit more thought than regular pruning, the steps are almost the same but here are a few extra things to think about:

Thinning Out

  • Start by thinning out the plant. Remove any stems that are crossing over others and any that are growing out of the desired area.
  • Focus on creating an open framework that allows air and light to penetrate the plant, which will encourage healthy growth.

Cutting Back

For severely overgrown plants, you may need to cut the plant back significantly. You can cut vigorous, overgrown Clematis montana down to about 2 to 3 feet from the ground.
This hard pruning will stimulate new growth from the base and can help rejuvenate an old plant.

Disentangling and Shaping

  • Carefully disentangle the growth above the cuts and remove it from any supports.
    Separate the remaining stems and cut out the weakest and any damaged ones.
  • Clip the remaining stems to just above a set of strong, healthy buds. This will encourage branching and result in a fuller plant.


Clematis Montana is one of the clematis plants classified under group 1 for pruning. These plants will do relatively well with minimal pruning and as such, you should err on the side of caution when cutting them back. Pruning should always be done in the middle of spring up until the end of spring after the plant has had a chance to flower. Depending on the age of the plant and its current condition, you may need to perform hard pruning. However, for the most part, simply cutting back dead leaves and giving the plant a little trim will be more than sufficient.

Garden Doctor Trev

Garden Doctor Tips

“Prune established Clematis Montana in late spring for best results!”

“To encourage growth in young clematis, prune hard the first spring!”

“To revive your old Montana, prune hard almost back to the ground – the results will surprise you!”

“Ensure that your secateurs are clean before pruning. You don’t want to damage your plant!”

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I cut back my Clematis Montana?

Clematis Montana is a climbing plant with heart-shaped leaves and beautiful purple flowers that can be found in many gardens. They are also known as the virgin’s bower because they look like the headdress of a Roman Catholic nun. The Clematis vine will produce more blossoms if it has plenty of sun, but too much sun or water will cause them to wilt and die. It is best to prune Montana in mid to late spring.

Can you cut back Clematis Montana?

Clematis Montana is a large, woody plant that can grow up to 30 feet. It has fragrant flowers that appear in the springtime and are followed by attractive seed pods.
Despite its size, this plant does not require much care or maintenance other than cutting back the old stems and pruning out any dead branches.

How do you look after Montana clematis?

The genus of Montana clematis is a temperate, deciduous vine that grows best in zones 3-6. This plant is known for its beautiful, bell-shaped flowers and usually blooms in the summer months. The care for this plant isn’t too difficult but there are some things to keep an eye on such as watering frequency, fertilizing schedule, and pruning back any dead or damaged stems or leaves from the plant’s foliage area.


Trevor Wright is not just a seasoned horticulturist; he’s the esteemed Garden Doctor. With a BSc in Horticulture and years of hands-on experience in the soil, Trevor has become a trusted mentor for all things gardening. As the founder of Garden Doctor, he’s committed to clarifying the intricacies of gardening, offering straightforward advice that’s rooted in years of practice. His writing is a garden of how-tos, savvy insights, and comprehensive guides that enable individuals to nurture and grow their garden dreams. When he’s not knee-deep in garden beds, Trevor is at his keyboard passing on his green-thumbed wisdom to budding gardeners, ensuring that the legacy of sustainable and joyful gardening blossoms far and wide.

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