Climbers stand on other plants’ shoulders to reach the light, then hog as much of it as they can. As a result, they may grow up out of sight, leaving their trailing bare stems behind — not ideal in a small garden. An easy remedy is to cut them back severely, either in late winter, as for many late-summer- or fall-flowering clematis, or every few years, as for honeysuckle. Climbers that flower early in the year and bloom on stems made the previous year should be trimmed after flowering.
Different types of climbers require pruning at different times of year — often depending on when they flower and whether the flowers appear on new or old stems.
Clematis fall into three main groups: those that flower in late winter or spring; those that flower in early summer; and the later-flowering types that bloom from midsummer to fall. For the best flowers, each should be pruned in a different way.
Some woody climbers, including Actinidia, Parthenocissus and Wisteria, should be pruned in winter when dormant, like many trees and shrubs, although Wisteria needs further pruning in summer for the best results.
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