A guide to pruning honeysuckle, which promotes healthy growth and keeps your garden looking tidy!
Dr TM Upson
Cambridge University Botanic Garden
Telephone : 01223 336265
Pruning or hard cutting back of growth helps restrict the spread of climbing honeysuckle plants but you can also leave them to scale a tree or ramble over a high wall.
There are two main types of honeysuckle (lonicera) - which require different pruning techniques.
One, like the summer-flowering evergreen Japanese honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica, produces its flowers on the current season's growth.
It should be clipped over with shears in spring in March or April as it starts into growth, just to keep it tidy and encourage new growth.
The other type of honeysuckle includes the very popular early and late Dutch honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum 'Serotina' and 'Belgica') with larger, scented flowers - pink and cream, and crimson and cream respectively - borne on side shoots produced from the previous season's growth.
This type should be trimmed or pruned immediately after flowering - remove about a third of the growth.
To stimulate bushy growth in newly planted honeysuckles regularly pinch out the growing tips.
The ideal time to prune a neglected old honeysuckle is early spring for the first type, or after flowering for the second.
However, timing is not vital as you probably won't get many - if any - flowers the season after a very severe pruning.
To prune neglected honeysuckle, first untie it from its supports and, if possible, lay it flat on the ground.
Untangle the honeysuckle stems and braches, cutting out some of the oldest growths, either to the base or to just above a point where strong, young growth is emerging.
Then tie the remaining growths to a support, fanning the stems out out as evenly
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Expert advice on pruning Honeysuckle - how to prune and cut back growth of overgrown old or neglected honeysuckle plants. When to trim and prune honeysuckle to encourage flowering of Honeysuckle.