Question: Pruning advice please for an established Clematis cirrhosa and honeysuckle, both growing vigorously up separate trellises along a 5ft fence.
© RHS Herbarium
Both have good lead growth but the clematis has never flowered. Both are five-to-six years old. The clematis has a dense, thick thatch at the top of the trellis and neither are shooting from the base. How radically should they be pruned, please?
Answer: Guy Barter says, "Honeysuckle is best pruned just before growth starts in spring, around April time. It needs to be cut back very hard, with shears if necessary, and this will allow for regrowth from below.
"Clematis cirrhosa generally needs very little pruning, so in most cases it can be tricky to grow in association with honeysuckle.
"However, in your case it seems that it, too, must be cut hard back as well. As the clematis flowers early in the year, pruning after your clematis has flowered will suit both plants. The fact that the clematis foliage has collected at the top of the fence and never flowers suggests that the plants are rather shaded, so anything you can do to let in more light might help promote flowering."
Send your questions for Guy Barter to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Only one question per fortnight can be answered. For further advice on handling problems in your garden, visit www.rhs.org.uk/advice/index.asp.