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Pruning

Pruning Honeysuckle - Lonicera. How to prune climbers and shrub types.

If honeysuckles are pruned wrongly, then it could mean the loss of flowers for the following - or present - year. Pruning of honeysuckles is relatively easy, though can be a bit messy if pruning a neglected climber  that has wrapped itself around an old trellis or frame for the last ten years!

Most will know Lonicera as climbing shrubs - better known as Honeysuckle. However, there are also a group of Loniceras - or Honeysuckles that are actually grown as shrubs.

Needless to say, there are different pruning regimes for both types. If you prune - and it in not always essential - then ensure that you carry out your pruning at the right time of year.

When to Prune Honeysuckle - Lonicera.

The main criteria is that all climbing Lonicera should be pruned back immediately after flowering each year. The difference in pruning techniques are explained below.

Pruning Climbing Lonicera - Honeysuckle vines.

Honeysuckle climbers are relatively easy to prune - the most important factor being correct timing. If you have the space for them to grow into large climbers, then pruning should only be required by way of trimming back to fit the space that you have to fill. Lonicera periclymenum Serotina image. Prune right after flowering

If your space is restricted - or you want to keep it under some sort of orderly control, then most climbing honeysuckle vines can be cut back quite hard in the late winter or very early spring each year. They will then flower on the new growths sent up in that season.

These new growths - vines - will often reach 2metres in length, so it will re-cover a good size trellis during the year.

One or two varieties of Climbing Lonicera are best cut back right after flowering in the mid to late summer. These are members of the Lonicera periclymenum group, and are some of the most popular varieties in the UK. They include (pictured) Lonicera periclymenum Serotina - the late Dutch Honeysuckle; Lonicera p. Belgica - the early Dutch Honeysuckle; Lonicera p. Graham Thomas. These varieties tend to flower on growths - wood -  made the previous year, so should be cut back after flowering - to size determined by the available space. In any event they should be cut to just above a strong new growth that will be sprouting from below the flowered area.

The evergreen Lonicera japonica types - including Lonicera japonica Halliana - do not actually require pruning - other than trimming to size. Again this should be done in early spring. Summer is too late - you will lose the flowers for a year.

Rejuvenation Pruning

All old climbing honeysuckles can be given a new lease of life, by cutting back hard in early spring. The size of the main trunk will determine how hard back they should be cut. If large - more than 3in (75mm) then best tp cut back the branches at the first fork. The climber will soon shoot out and you will be blessed with a 'new, fresh-looking vine.

Pruning Shrub or Bush Honeysuckles.

Lonicera fragrantissima - winter flowering honeysuckleThe shrub type honeysuckles - Winter flowering Lonicera fragrantissima types - or summer flowering Lonicera tatarica types, can be pruned back to a strong new growth, immediately after flowering. So the time will be dependent upon the flowering period of the shrub. If pruning is to take place, then the 'after-flowering' advice is important.

If you cut the winter flowering types back in mid summer - or later - then you are effectively cutting off the flower buds that would normally have given you such pleasure in mid-winter.

Likewise, if you prune the mid-summer types too late in the year - or worse - in the spring, then again you will forfeit the flowers for one year. Both winter and summer flowering shrub - bush - honeysuckles need time to develop flower buds on their new growth.

Image shows Lonicera fragrantissima which flowers mid - late - winter.

Back to A-Z of Pruning Shrubs

By David Hughes - info@gardenseeker.com