I have a 3 year-old clematis that has never bloomed. Why not?
There may be a few reasons why a clematis may refuse to cooperate when it comes to flowering. One of the more common reasons is inadequate sunlight. Clematis should receive a minimum of 6 hours of direct sun to insure that they have enough energy to produce flower buds. Clematis foliage loves the sun, but their roots like cool and moist conditions, so be sure to provide shading for the base by placing another plant or object in front and by maintaining a 2-inch layer of mulch over the rooting area.
The other reasons for not flowering may include improper pruning, as well as damage due to winter exposure. Some clematis varieties flower on new wood, while other varieties produce their glorious flowers on old wood, or last years’ growth. If an “old wood” variety is cut back in the spring, then so goes the flowering for that season. In order to determine if your clematis blooms on old wood or new wood, wait for new growth to begin. Note whether the majority of shoots are coming from the ground or from the old vines. If the shoots are coming from the ground, the old vines may be cut down. If the new growth appears on the old vines, only prune dead wood.
Lastly, if your clematis is an old wood variety located in a winter exposed area, you might be losing stems to drying and cold damage. Large amounts of dead wood in the upper portions of the plant are an indicator of this condition. Without healthy old wood, these clematis are unlikely to bloom.