Why does my Clematis Only Flower at the Top? Know why

Clematises are popular climbing plants among garden lovers. They are easy to grow and produce vibrant flowers. These garden plants seem to have it all. They can bloom for long, resist unfavorable growing conditions and produce different types of flower colors and shapes.

A healthy growing clematis vine produces an amazing amount of colorful flowers. However, clematises can be unpredictable in terms of their flowering. If something’s wrong with your clematis vine, the flowers may not bloom or only flower at the top.

Trying to find out why your clematis only has flowers at the top can be challenging. The pruning method you engage is why your clematis only flowers at the top. If you don’t prune your clematis, you’ll likely end up with a tangled mass of clematis with flowers only at the top. 

Also, the method and timing of the pruning are significant for gardeners. A wrong pruning time can prevent the clematis from flowering altogether.

Pruning isn’t difficult if you’re aware of the blooming season of your clematis plant. Due to their flowering season, clematises fall into three pruning groups – groups 1, 2, and 3 Clematis.

How do I get more Blooms on my Clematis?

The pruning method and system of the clematis plant determine the extent of flowering bloom your clematis plant gets. In addition to pruning, fertilization application with slow-release plant nutrient fertilizer and a good watering system will provide 

Pruning Groups of Clematis Plant to Enhance Flowering

Groups of Clematis Plant on the wall

These groups determine the right season to prune your clematis. Here are easy pruning tips to get the best out of your clematis.

Group 1: Early Blooming Clematis

Some species in this group include Clematis armandii, Clematis alpina, Clematis cirrhosa, and Clematis montana. These species generally bloom on old wood and can grow up to 40 feet tall. They don’t require much pruning except when they’re outgrowing their required space.

The early blooming clematis opens its flowers in mid-winter and blooms in early spring. With the flowers growing on stems from the previous season, there’s no need for pruning. Only regular maintenance and care will do for this group.

Although you can give them some light pruning after the spring blooming season. Just clear out the dead wood and maintain the stem.

Group 2: Repeat Blooming Clematis

Group 2 clematises are a group of clematis that bloom on old wood in late spring or early summer and flower again on new wood in late summer or early autumn. Some examples of species in this group include Clematis patens and Clematis florida.

This group of climbers can grow up to 10 feet high and flourish in partial shade or full sun. Since this group flowers on old and new wood, you’d want to trim to encourage new growth without affecting the upcoming buds.

Repeat blooming clematis should be pruned moderately. Trimming twice a year is okay for this set of clematis. The first trimming should happen during the late winter or early spring, while the second pruning should be done after the first blooms to encourage new growth.

Group 3: Late Blooming Clematis

If your clematis plant belongs to group 3, you should expect blooming during late summer or early autumn. Although group 3 clematises are perennials, they wither after the last bloom, only to grow again each spring.

Maintaining late blooming clematis is easy. Simply prune the stems about 12 inches above the ground every March, as this allows for new growth. Clematis species in this category include Clematis integrifolia, Clematis stans, and Clematis recta.

Since group 3 clematis regrows from their trimmed stems and matures each summer, they’re often the last to bloom in the late summer or early fall. This group flowers on new wood; therefore, last season’s growth should be discarded in early spring.

How to Keep Clematis Blooming

Several factors come into play to ensure your clematis keeps blooming strong. Although it may be challenging to figure out the exact cause of why your clematises are struggling to flower, these tips are great for ensuring a solid bloom.

  1. Picking the right variety

Over 300 species of clematis exist, and choosing the suitable variety for your garden is the first place to start. You should select suitable species for your climate and garden area. If you obtain your variety from local garden centers, it should be varieties that go well with your local climate. However, if you got yours from other sources, confirm if it’s a variety for your local region before planting. This is important in ensuring your clematis blooms richly.

  1. Age of the Clematis

Give the clematis some time if it’s new. It can take about two years for a new clematis to establish itself and start flowering. As the plant grows, the roots develop, giving the clematis a new ability to produce shoots and flowers. On the other hand, an older clematis starts blooming more slowly till it reaches the end of its life span. Therefore, you should note the age of your clematis if you want to keep it blooming strong.

  1. Proper lighting

Although clematis can grow in partial shade, good exposure to sunlight is vital to keep them flourishing. As the clematis plant grows, try to prevent the overhangs from blocking the sun’s exposure to them. The only area of the clematis that needs shade is the roots. The roots prefer moist soil with shade. Protect the roots by allowing shade around the clematis vine’s base.

  1. Watering

Avoid drought stress to your clematis plant, as sufficient water is essential to keep the clematis blooming strong. Since the roots grow deep, clematises need moist soil and enough water to blossom properly.

  1. Pruning

Bad pruning is a common cause of why your clematis may not flower properly. Some clematis species bloom on old wood, while others bloom on new wood. For species that flower on the last season’s vines, pruning in spring can prevent new flowers from emerging. Meanwhile, for others that bloom on the recent year’s vine, they can be pruned to the ground in early spring.

  1. Fertiliser application

Clematises are heavy bloomers and, therefore, consume a high amount of nutrients. Adding fertilizer can help your clematis to bloom properly. However, sometimes, it’s not the absence of fertilizer but the addition of excess fertilizer that prevents the clematis from flowering properly. Fertilizers contain three primary macronutrients – nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Using too much nitrogen fertilizers can result in lush foliage and little blooms. For the best results, use a balanced fertilizer that ensures the clematis isn’t getting too much nitrogen.

Watch this Video to further take care of your Clematis to achieve more blooms:


Clematis are great climbers, and with over 300 species available worldwide, you’d find the perfect variety for your garden. Depending on the species, they have different blooming seasons.

While some bloom during spring or summer, others bloom in autumn or winter. Therefore, getting the correct combination of clematis for your garden can leave you with clematis blooms all year long.

Furthermore, you should take care of your clematis to prevent it from flowering only at the top. Pruning at the appropriate time and using the proper methods will prevent blooming only at the top.

Also, check your fertilizer if your clematis is only adding green growth without signs of bloom. Ensure you use low nitrogen fertilizer and follow the label instructions closely.

Finally, if your clematis bloomed in previous years and suddenly doesn’t bloom, check your pruning methods, fertilizer application, lighting, and other factors. If you follow these guides, you’ll have no issues, and your clematis will keep flourishing.

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