Honeysuckle (Lonicera) is not only a favorite of children who savor the sweet flower nectar, but is a durable, quick-growing vine. It can be trained on a fence or trellis, used as ground cover, or provide coverage as a border shrub to attract hummingbirds. Most varieties of honeysuckle provide beautiful flowers and rich green foliage, and the development of the plant is swift and structured.
Honeysuckle thrives in full sun and in regions with high heat. The plant cannot tolerate frost and seedlings will die in cold weather. To have a strong start with honeysuckle, plant in a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball. Fill the hole with water to let the soil settle, then add a thick layer of compost or manure into the bottom of the hole. After planting, the honeysuckle needs to have consistently moist soil for the first year, then mature plants only need water when the weather is very dry. A balanced fertilizer benefits honeysuckle when applied every year. Since the vine can grow up to 12 feet long or tall, it is best controlled on a trellis or fence for support.
Honeysuckle flowers are the vine's most well-known characteristic. In late spring to early summer, flowers bloom ranging in color from yellow, white and red. They emit a strong, pleasant odor with lots of sweet nectar that attracts not only butterflies and hummingbirds, but humans as well. Birds eat the small black or blue berries that occur after the flowers are pollinated, but humans should not eat these as they are potentially poisonous.
Cuttings are one of the best ways to develop a mature honeysuckle plant. To take a cutting you must take one from a mature plant in spring, a healthy twig that is about 8 inches long. Remove the leaves from the bottom of the twig but not the top. After covering the bottom part in rooting powder, put it in moist soil. In about two weeks you will notice new roots making progress to develop a new honeysuckle plant.
Honeysuckle plants can also be developed by a different method called layering. Layering entails a vine from the current plant rooting itself while still attached to the main plant. When a healthy younger vine is bent to touch the soil and anchored down with something (like a rock), it will root itself into the ground and become a new plant. After the roots appear strong enough, sever the younger vine from the main plant. In turn, this will develop a new honeysuckle plant, layering main plants up against each other.
Pruning honeysuckle is vital to the plant's development, as it not only helps control the plant but encourages new growth, blooming, and a healthy, tailored appearance. Start pruning the plant when it is 2 years old. Cut away any foliage that has died, broken or become diseased anytime. For older plants that have not been controlled, completely cut it down to the base for a new plant to begin growing the following growing season.