clematis after winter?

Last year I successfully grew one clematis. A Polish Spirit. I haven't cut it at all, just let all the leaves die on the vine. After winter a lot of leaves are dried in place. I remember the clematis had very delicate, brittle wood when it was growing.
How can you tell this is still viable wood vs. dead wood? (it looks so dead!)
I can't see damage, but other vines have died off from very tiny damage. Do you just wait it out?
When do clematis first show life? After frost date?
DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, 1 mile off L.I.Sound 1st Year Gardener
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On Mon, 01 Mar 2004 19:49:49 +0000, DigitalVinyl wrote:

I cut my clematis back to 3" above soil line. It grows back vigorously every year. Clematis should come alive when the weather warms. Look at the crown for new shoots. If the crown has turned to mush, that's it for the plant.
You may already know this, clematis like cool feet but sun on the branches. Shade the roots/crown for best performance. Also, clematis are not water plants, i.e., they do not take kindly to poorly drained soils or wet feet.
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I leave it alone until it is all leafed out and then trim dead stuff. there are different clematis leaf out different times. Ingrid

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On Mon, 01 Mar 2004 22:28:54 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@wi.rr.xx.com wrote:

Just be patient. I'm in Eastern Ontario and mine come back every year. They look like dead sticks until the buds finally break. Joe

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That's exactly how it looks. Eight feet of dead sticks. DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, 1 mile off L.I.Sound 1st Year Gardener
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wrote:

I'm interested in hearing the responses to this. I have three different kinds of clematis (spring, and 2 summer bloomers). They look like dead vines on the trellis, but believe me, they will flower soon. What beautiful blooms from such an ugly vine! If you trim it down, you may have no blooms. :-(
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'Polish Spirit' is a viticella clematis. It requires a hard pruning each spring, approximately at the same time forsythia is done blooming. A hard pruning is down to 12" - no further. ALL newly planted clematis will benefit from a hard pruning after their first season in the ground - it strengthens the root system and makes them more resistant to clematis wilt. After their first season, you will need to prune according to their type and bloom time, but not to the ground.
If you have other clematis questions, check the website of the International Clematis Society or the GardenWeb Clematis forum. Both have excellent FAQ's and very knowledgeable posters.
pam - gardengal
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Thanks Pam for reminding me of that. I had a group 2 and a group 3, and I was thinking this was the group 2. I will cut this back now before weather warms any more.
Thanks. DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, 1 mile off L.I.Sound 1st Year Gardener
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