Honeysuckle brings to mind warm spring afternoons and the hint of a sweet floral fragrance in the sir. This beautiful, simple shrub produces white flowers that bring to mind childhood memories of pulling the flowers for a taste. Honeysuckle shrubs can become quite unruly if left to grow wild in the landscape. Regular pruning keeps the honeysuckle plant healthy and prevents incursion into other parts of the garden. Pruning honeysuckle involves choosing which type of pruning technique will work best for your plant's situation.
Honeysuckle prefers full sun but can survive in partial shade. This hardy plant also likes well-drained soil but can thrive in dry areas of the landscape. Most bushes become grossly overgrown as homeowner's neglect the plant in favor of letting the honeysuckle grow wild. The honeysuckle will benefit from pruning each year to maintain shape and encourage new interior branch growth.
Honeysuckle blooms in the spring and this type of early flowering shrub produces buds on the current year's branches for the following year. Schedule pruning soon after the blooms die to allow plenty of time during the growing season for branch and bud formation. Pruning late in the season will remove future buds and result in severely decreased blooms the following year. If you can't prune before mid-June, wait until the following year.
All woody plants thrive when pruning creates open spaces inside the plant. This allows light into the interior of the plant to fuel new growth. Thinning involves the strategic removal of the oldest parts of the plants. Pruning in this fashion involves clipping branches with sharp shears at a 45-degree angle to limit the size of the wound on the branch. Thinning a honeysuckle provides an excellent way for a beginner gardener to learn pruning technique. The first cuts include those branches showing disease or dead leaves and branches. Then select various branches and clip close to the main trunk to allow airflow and light inside the plant. Thinning generally doesn't involve clipping the excess length of a branch since this practice often invites a cluster of growth at the cutting point. Honeysuckle should be thinned yearly to maintain shape, control size and promote plant health.
A more dramatic type of cutting takes the form of rejuvenation pruning. Rejuvenation pruning differs from thinning by the complete removal of all branches to a height of 6 inches from the soil. Rejuvenation pruning can be used to remedy tangled branches, lack of interior growth or simply to control a rampantly growing honeysuckle bush. Schedule this severe type of pruning early in the spring to allow time for the plant to rejuvenate during the warm summer months.
Regular pruning of spring flowering honeysuckle benefits the plant throughout its lifetime. These lovely shrubs will last for many years with proper initial planting and maintenance pruning. Choose an initial planting location that allows for the mature size of the honeysuckle shrub. This major consideration can help limit the need for future major pruning sessions.