When to Prune Honeysuckle

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Fast-growing honeysuckle needs frequent trimming.
Fast-growing honeysuckle needs frequent trimming. (Image: Honeysuckle image by StylezInk from Fotolia.com)

Honeysuckle's fragrant blossoms perfume gardens and draw in bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Like other vines, honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) grows rapidly. This vine looks best when kept neat, as unpruned plants get wild, invade your garden and become a tangled mess. Prune throughout the growing season to keep this vine at its best.

Time Frame

Horticulturists offer several time frames for pruning honeysuckle, since this vine grows so rapidly. If you want to maximize the fragrant flower display, wait until after spring bloom to really trim your honeysuckle. If you have an overgrown vine or don't mind losing blooms, prune while your honeysuckle is dormant, in the late winter or early spring. Since it won't have leaves yet, you'll have an easier time seeing the branches so you'll know where to cut.

Considerations

Honeysuckle rarely needs one pruning. Whether you want to prune during the dormant season or hold off until after the flowering, touch up your vine with frequent trims during the summer and early autumn, to control the shape and size of your plant. Frequent trimming during the season reduces the work next season and keeps your vine from growing out of control. These vines can be pruned any time of year, so when to prune depends on you and your garden's needs.

Benefits

Unpruned honeysuckle can grow rampant and look unattractive. Thick vines can harbor insects such as wasps, and the plant may become diseased with little air circulation. As honeysuckle becomes overgrown, the top part of the plant shades the lower branches, and can kill them. Regular trimming keeps the fragrant vine from becoming an eyesore, removes unhealthy growth and maintains the honeysuckle's health and vitality.

Process

The first step in pruning this plant is the removal of dead vines and old woody tendrils that no longer bear flowers, or those that bear few. These will have a thick woody base; dead vines will be shriveled. Leave some old growth, and thin out the upper portion of your vine to prevent shading. Remove up to 1/2 of the top tendrils, trying to cut around the knotted vine stems. This is when it's beneficial to prune in winter, so you can see the stems. Shape the plant last, cutting long stems back and framing the honeysuckle within your landscape.

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