The clematis vine is a perennial vine that can grow up to 20 feet in one season. Clematis vines require support and need to be grown on an arbor, trellis or fence. Varieties that blossom on new stem growth should be pruned in early spring. Varieties that produce blossoms on old stem growth should be pruned after flowering to remove dead stems. You may also want to prune away seedheads--this is a personal preference. Both varieties will need to be pruned to remove diseased plant material.
Cut your vine down to between 24 and 30 inches off the ground (if you have the variety of vine that blossoms on new stem growth). This should be done in early spring before any budding takes place. Dispose of the plant material in your compost bin.
Prune away any dead or weak stems after your vine has flowered (if you have the variety of vine that blossoms on old stem growth). Also improve the appearance of your vine by removing any straying stems. Deposit the pruned plant material in your compost bin.
Visually inspect your vine for signs of wilt. Wilt is a fungal disease that attacks the clematis vine. The foliage will look wilted or turn black. It is also known as stem rot.
Prune away the diseased plant material and dispose of it. Do not place the material in your compost bin. Disinfect your pruning shears by dipping them in bleach or alcohol.
Prune or pinch off seed heads. There are two schools of thought concerning this. Some gardeners prefer to pinch off the seed heads because the vine will produce more flowers, yet other gardeners prefer to leave the seed heads and enjoy the variation in appearance that it brings to the clematis vine.