Although pruning honeysuckle isn’t strictly necessary every year, it’s an easy way to keep it in shape for the space it’s in and to remove damaged and unsightly areas. Plus, it will encourage healthy new shoots and flowers for the following season. These fragrant, climbing, cottage-garden plant favorites will certainly reward gardeners for their efforts, whether they train garden wall or around a terrace pergola.
JackieCarol, gardening A Gardening Know How expert shared when to prune honeysuckle for “major pruning”.
She said: “Honeysuckles include both vines and shrubs. Prune honeysuckle bushes in the spring, as soon as the flowers fall. You can lightly prune honeysuckle vines at any time of the year. Wait until fall or winter when the vine is dormant for heavy pruning.
When pruning these plants, experts suggest following a simple rule. She said, “Proper honeysuckle pruning always starts with removing the three Ds: dead, damaged and diseased stems. This prevents the loss of vital energy and helps maintain a healthier plant.
“Then correct stems that grow the wrong way and those that rub against each other. Cut a stem to a point where it joins another stem, or shorten stems by cutting just past a leaf node.
Once gardeners have resolved these issues, they can shape the plant by removing stray stems that stray from the support.
Jackie added: “You should also thin out the top of the plant to let in sunlight and air. Good air circulation is essential to prevent diseases like powdery mildew.
Neglecting to prune honeysuckle, especially when it is overgrown, can prove to be a big problem. The expert said: “When a honeysuckle vine becomes overgrown, the branches become a tangled mess, making selective pruning impossible.
“Another problem with neglected and severely overgrown honeysuckle vines is that sunlight cannot reach the lower branches because the tops are too dense. When this happens, the leaves drop from the lower branches, leaving the stems bare.
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“The best way to fix a very overgrown honeysuckle is to cut the plant about 31cm from the ground. Severe pruning should be done in winter while the plant is dormant. The vine regrows quickly but does not flower the following spring. Keep the soil around the plant moist at all times to help the vine regenerate.
According to the experts at Gardeners Dream, honeysuckle shrubs benefit from pruning after the blooming season.
They said, “A light cut in late summer or early fall will promote growth for the current season.
“For deciduous honeysuckle bushes, more severe pruning should wait until late winter or early spring, when the plant is in its dormant phase. This will encourage new growth and a thriving flowering season.
Severe pruning is the easiest way to tidy up honeysuckle shrubs and remove a mess of tangled stems. The honeysuckle bush will regrow quickly, but you will find that it will not bloom the following spring.
If gardeners have an established honeysuckle that looks a bit congested above, sparse below, and generally dull, a good pruning can help refresh it back to its former glory.
Jackie explained that gardeners can also “rejuvenate” overgrown honeysuckle bushes this way, but it’s best to rejuvenate them gradually.
She said: “Removing a third of the branches every year for three years rejuvenates the plant over time without leaving a hole in the landscape.”
Experts from the Royal Horticultural Society advised to do this in the middle of winter, cutting the stems to a height of 60 cm. As new shoots grow, choose the best ones to create a new frame on your garden trellis or other structure.
According to planter Toby Buckland of Amateur Gardening, the plants may miss a year of flowering, but they will flower normally thereafter.
Additionally, doing this work in the winter means that gardeners will avoid disturbing the birds, as it will not be nesting season.
On the other hand, if gardeners are looking for wildlife garden ideas, they may just want to leave their climber as is. Robins, wrens and other little feathered friends will love using the tangle of branches for shelter.
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