Why Does My Clematis Only Flower at the Top? Let’s Find Out!

Clematis is one of the most popular flowering vines. However, while growing these lovely vines you may face some issues which may cause your frustration. One of them is clematis flowering only at the top.

Hence, here I am gonna resolve your question: why does my clematis only flower at the top?

Improper pruning, fertilization, lighting, and age are the reasons for this. Proper pruning is gonna fix it. For that, you need to identify the exact group of your clematis. If it is group 1, only a light trimming will work. But for group 3 clematis you are gonna have to apply hard pruning to fix it.

Still, worried? Well, no need to sweat just keep scrolling to find out more!

Reasons Why Your Clematis Only Flower At The Top

Different varieties of flowers come with their own issues. For example, calla lily turning green or your clematis only blooming on top.

my clematis only flower at the top
Source: reddit

Here is a table offering a snapshot for your quick view.

Reasons Solution
Not Pruning Regular pruning after identifying specific group
Improper Fertilization Avoid too much fertilizer
Improper Lighting Make sure your clematis vines receive sufficient sunlight
The Age Factor N/A

Now that you got a sneak peek into the reasons, let’s emphasize the issues.

Improper Pruning:

Lack of pruning is a common reason why flowers only bloom on top clematis.

Because, when it is not pruned, clematis vines get overloaded with decrepit stalks. This leads to the production of only a few flowers.

Likewise, more stubborn clematis varieties which are left unchecked tend to bear most of the flowers high atop the plants.

It then runs the risk of toppling down their supporting framework or dragging themselves down under their own weight.

Clematis vines benefit from pruning because it spurs new growth, which leads to more flowers, flowers that are at a level you can enjoy, and less weight on the plant, which prevents it from tumbling over. 

Improper Fertilization:

Improper fertilization might often be the reason why clematis is not blooming properly; or only blooming at the top.

Usually, too much fertilizer, could result in lush foliage and few blooms. And this is the issue rather than a shortage of fertilizer. In general, clematis benefits from a handful of 5-10-10 fertilizer and a covering of compost in the spring. If your clematis is next to grass that has been highly fertilized, the plant might be receiving an excessive amount of nitrogen. And that can lead to the issue.

The Age Factor:

Age can be another factor why your clematis is not blooming properly or only blooming at the top.

It can happen if the clematis is new. Offer the plant enough time to establish itself as well as grow strong roots. When it comes to blooming and maturing completely, clematis can take up to two years. An older plant, on the other hand, might only be nearing the end of its life.

Improper Lighting:

Lighting is yet another factor responsible for this issue. “Feet in the shadow, head in the light.” This guideline is essential for strong clematis vines.

If your vine isn’t flourishing, protect the roots by planting a few perennial plants close to the vine’s base or supporting the stem with a few wooden shingles.

If your plant has previously produced healthy blooms, consider if a nearby tree or shrub is obstructing light. Perhaps a fast clip is required to let the vine receive sunshine.

How to Prune Clematis: Figuring Out Clematis Type

Pointing out your clematis plants’ pruning group is gonna be your first step to pruning clematis.

If you know the name of your clematis, you may look up its group online or on its label. If you are unsure of the plant’s name, note when it blooms and if the flowers are on this year’s growth or the previous year’s. You are gonna be able to discern the variety of clematis you have with the help of the guide.

Do not worry it is even easier than distinguishing between the crimson sweet and sugar baby watermelon

Group 1: Winter And Spring Flowering

This group flowers typically through the winter and during the spring. The Macropetala deciduous alpine and evergreen Armandii and Cirrhosa are examples of varieties.

Group 2: Late Spring And Summer Flowering

This group flowers through the late spring as well as summer. There are also those clematis  that tend to bloom twice: i) in early spring and again ii) in late summer. The Nelly Moser with big sized flowers, Bees Jubilee, Niobe, as well as  Princess Charlotte are among the classes in this category.

Group 3: Late Summer Flowering

This group flowers through the late summer. The varieties in the group contain Jackmanii, Minuet, Prince George and Viticella.

When to Prune Clematis

The first spring after planting, every newly planted clematis with fewer than two healthy base stems should be given hard pruning. For mature clematis, adhere to the timing listed by the clematis pruning group:

Pruning Time for Group 1 Clematis:

These plants don’t need to be pruned that often if they have sufficient space. However, pruning is surely essential. In that case, trim right after flowering. If a mature plant needs a harsh haircut to be contained, provide it gradually over a few years; otherwise, the plant might not flower the next year.

Pruning Time for Group 2 Clematis:

February would be the best time for pruning this type. Sometime during the winter-end to the start of spring. After the initial flush of blooms, in early summer (May–June), a second pruning should be done if the variety blossoms twice.

Pruning Time for Prune Group 3 Clematis:

Pruning timing for this type also should be during February. Meaning sometime around the end of winter to the initial days of spring.

How to Prune Clematis Properly: According to Specific Groups

How to Prune Clematis Properly
Source: garden gate magazine.com

In the first spring after planting, every newly planted clematis can be cut back to a height of around 30 cm. As a result, the plant should grow strong stems and a solid foundation for future growth. Make sure that you conduct this hard pruning in March. Because by this time the possibility of frost has cleared out. To prune groupings of established clematis plants follow the given instructions. 

How To Prune Group 1 Clematis:

Although this particular species of clematis doesn’t require frequent pruning, it’s a good idea to remove any damaged branches and any dead flower heads after the blooming season.

  1. As soon as flowering is finished and the risk of frost has passed, you can perform some mild pruning. That is if the plant is outgrowing the area you want it to fill. Avoid cutting the plant all the way to the ground since this will probably destroy it.
  2. In order to keep the plant tidy in summer, you need to consider tying in any new growth. This is gonna help to keep stems from breaking as well.
  3. Once flowering is over, robust clematis varieties can be pruned annually to keep them clean.

How to Prune Group 2 Clematis:

For this group to promote healthy development and an abundance of blooms at eye level, regular pruning is necessary. Only deadwood and weak branches should be removed during the early pruning (which should take place in February).

  1. Cut the stems right above a sound bud after checking down the stems. You won’t get early flowers if you prune too severely.
  2. After the first bloom, cut back to the blossoming shoots to promote growth in preparation for the next round of flowering.
  3. It’s time to start pruning back if the plant has become too huge or twisted. It is suggested to remodel the clematis over a few years rather than all at once because being too severe may restrain any future growth.

The probability of the second round of flowering may be decreased as a result of doing this. However, the plant will grow stronger and, presumably, more abundantly the following year.

Pruning Group 3 Clematis:

Group 3 of clematis usually requires hard pruning; that too, yearly.

Trim all the aging stems to the first pair of healthy buds. These buds tend to be typically 15 to 30 cm above the soil.

These clematis will become top-heavy and produce few, if any, blooms at eye level if no pruning is done to them.

Tips for Flowering Clematis Vines

Here are some tips you need to follow if you are pruning clematis. following days would save you a lot of extra work. 

  1. If you’re growing the clematis in a container, pick a variety that can withstand temperatures at least one zone colder than your own and be ready to provide it with the necessary winter protection.
  2. Select a sunny area. While clematis vines can survive some shade, if they do not receive enough sunlight, some varieties may not blossom.
  3. Set up an automatic watering system for extremely hot days or when you’ll be away and check on it every day to make sure the soil is moist.
  4. In addition to daily moisture checks, keeping an eye out for wilt will help save your plant.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): 

When should clematis be cut back?

The clematis should be cut back or pruned in late winter. Remove all of the dead foliage above, starting about 30-45 cm from the ground. Reduce the height to just above a sound new bud. In order to get flowers at various heights, you can leave one or two stems on a robust plant unpruned.

What happens if you do not prune a clematis?

When you do not prune your clematis, it is most likely gonna grow into a cluttered bunch of growth with flowers only at the top. Additionally, if you prune it at the incorrect time, you risk getting no blossoms at all. As long as you are aware of when your clematis blooms, pruning clematis is quite easy.

How can I prepare my clematis for the winter season?

To prepare, it is crucial to spread a thick layer of mulch around the base of the clematis. Or the air temperature dips to 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-3 degrees Celsius). It is advised to use a straw, hay, manure, leaf mold, grass clippings, or manufactured mulch. Place a thick layer of mulch both at the clematis’s crown and at its base.

Wrapping Up

I Hope I have cleared your query of why does my clematis only flower at the top?

Now you know the answer! From here you can identify the group of clematis that you are dealing with. Then you can follow the instructions to fix it. As everything is discussed here, it should not be a lot of work.

This is all as of now. Have a terrific day!

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