The ivy and other climbing plants you tend to have a way of effortlessly decorating your yard and home. But just like all your other plants, they too could use a little bit of maintenance every once in a while. In fact, not tackling your vines in a timely fashion allows them to slowly take over — and the last thing you want is English ivy growing over all your windows. Here are some tips for pruning your ornamental vines and keeping them in tip-top shape all winter long:


pruning a wall of ivy

People grow several types of ornamental ivy for their looks. Persian, Boston, and English ivy are some popular examples. Since ivy is a very aggressive and robust plant, you can get away with pruning large amounts of it without worry. The stem only needs about two feet to regrow itself and branch off.

Winter pruning can encourage new growth and breath some life back into your ivy plants. Make sure to prune around structural features like windows and remove any excess vines. Tackling this in the winter will make your ivy much easier to manage in the spring and summer.


When it comes to ornamental vines, clematis is perfectly lovely, but the type of clematis you have will determine if winter pruning is beneficial or not. For instance, early-flowering clematis doesn’t require much pruning and only needs to be cut back once every three years or so.

You can clean up early to midsummer clematis in the late winter by cutting back its buds to the soil level, but you may lose the flowers the following year (or they may flower later than normal) because of it.

Late-flowering clematis is best pruned when its buds start to swell. This typically happens just before the start of spring. Only leave about two strong buds a foot from the base of the vine. If you have a particularly vigorous vine, however, you can prune all the way down to the ground to keep things tidy.

Ornamental Grape Vines

Ornamental grape vines can be stunning features in your yard, but they do need some love in the winter when they're dormant. Start by singling out the hardiest canes and pruning all of the other rods down to the base. If the canes you left intact rise above your structure or the wire keeping them up, you can also cut their tops back a little. Identify about four shoots that are widely spaced apart on each cane, and prune the rest of them away.

Morning Glory

Morning glory vines are absolutely beautiful during the summer months, and you probably already know that you should be deadheading the flowers as the summer goes on. In areas where morning glories are perennials and come back every year, it’s essential to cut down their vines in the winter. Cut them down to about six inches above the soil line. Come the next growing season, they'll be back and stronger than ever.

General Vine Pruning Tips

pruning ornamental vines

You may not need to prune every year. Depending on the age of the vine, you may not even need to prune it at all, as most vines don't need a lot of pruning in their first year. While you don't have to prune these plants, it’ll encourage more growth out of them come their second year. Use your judgment to determine when a vine needs more than a little taken off to help it become more vigorous for the next year.

No matter what type of ornamental vine you’re pruning, you’ll still want to clean it up every now and then. That means removing any dead, diseased, or damaged vines as soon as you stumble upon them. You may also want to prune off the unproductive vines so that the productive ones have more nutrients flowing their way.

It can also be beneficial to tidy up any stems that are tangled or vines that are growing outside the area you want them to be in. Part of the beauty of ornamental vines is that they look wild and untamed, but the truth is that you must make an effort to keep them from becoming too unruly. Don’t ever be afraid to make your vines look more presentable.

You should also take this time to check the structures or supports you use to grow your vines. Make sure that the fences, wires, or bricks are in excellent condition to keep your plants secure for the duration of the coming growing season.

Ornamental vines are a joy to have in the yard. They bring beauty and elegance to your home, and while it's easy to think that they don’t need any help, you may want to intervene and give them some semi-regular maintenance. Like any other plant, these vines need a little TLC to keep them growing as they should.