Image by Rusty Clark
By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
Everyone recognizes that lovely fragrance of a honeysuckle plant and the sweet taste of its nectar. Honeysuckles are heat-tolerant and wildly attractive in any garden. A honeysuckle plant is a great addition to any landscape and will draw abundant wildlife with its sweet yellow to bright-red blossoms.
Honeysuckles (Lonicera spp.) belong to a large family that consists of hardy shrubs and vines that grow in almost every state in America. There are over 180 different varieties of honeysuckle. Some are deciduous and some, in warmer regions, are evergreen. Because of their versatility and abundance, growing and caring for honeysuckle vines is easy.
How to Grow a Honeysuckle Vine
While honeysuckles prefer full sun, they will tolerate some shade. The honeysuckle plant is also tolerant of different soil types, though it helps to grow the vine in well-draining soil amended with organic matter.
Honeysuckles can be grown as ground cover in suitable areas but most do best with some type of support, either along a fence or on a trellis. They can also be grown in containers.
- Using a Fence or Trellis – Honeysuckles take well to a sturdy fence, post or trellis and will gladly cover even a very large trellis in a short amount of time. As the plant matures, it has a tendency to shade the lower portion of the vine, which causes the bottom to become woody and unattractive. Therefore, you should thin out the top half of the vine during the dormant season to keep it healthy. If you wish, allow your honeysuckle vine to cover an arbor. This is a great way to provide a shady spot in a sunny landscape.
- Containers – Many varieties of honeysuckle perform well in containers as long as they receive regular water and an application of 10-10-10 plant food at the beginning of the growing season. Provide a trellis for your container vine or allow it to hang in a basket.
Caring for Honeysuckle Vines
Other than occasional watering, honeysuckle vine care is not difficult; however, pruning is a good practice. Vine species of honeysuckle can become invasive as a ground cover, if not controlled, and require clipping to tame. Therefore, a regular shearing and shaping will keep this beauty within its boundaries. Pruning honeysuckle vine is generally done in the fall or winter, when the honeysuckle plant is dormant. If your honeysuckle vine has been left untamed, don’t worry about giving it a good heavy prune. The vine will pop back up again in the spring. If you wish to use honeysuckle vines for erosion control, you will not need to prune them.
With annual pruning, honeysuckle vine care is not a problem. The plant will happily return each year, providing an abundance of blooms and sweet nectar for both you and wildlife.