Pruning Honeysuckle

Tips for Pruning Honeysuckle

One of the first things you need to know before pruning honeysuckle is which type of honeysuckle you are growing. There are two kinds: Japanese honeysuckle and Dutch honeysuckle.

Japanese honeysuckle is an evergreen which produces flowers in the summer on the current season’s growth. Pruning honeysuckle is best done on the Japanese variety in the early spring before the new growth for the season has begun. In most locations, this means the months of March and April. This honeysuckle comes in several colors: white, red, pink, yellow, and violet.

The other type of honeysuckle is Dutch honeysuckle, which should be pruned each year right after flowering has ended. That’s because it grows on the previous year’s growth. The Dutch honeysuckle has larger flowers than the Japanese variety, and they come as crimson and cream or pink and cream. If you want to have a bushier plant, simply pinch off the new growth on the tips.

Some people aren’t concerned at all about pruning honeysuckle. That’s because many gardeners like it to grow as a climbing vine up the side of the house or on a trellis or similar solid object. It is not uncommon for honeysuckle which is not pruned to get out of control and turn into a tangled mess. When this happens, you have to be very careful pruning so as not to kill the plant. You have to do the best you can to lie the honeysuckle on the ground and try to separate the branches. Only then can you prune.

Honeysuckle has lots of trumpet-shaped flowers, and of the interesting things people do with honeysuckle is to pick the flowers and drink the nectar out of them. The nectar is good for human consumption but that is the only part of the honeysuckle plant that is. In fact, the berries on many species of honeysuckle are poisonous, so never eat the berries unless you know for sure they are safe for humans.

Never stop pruning honeysuckle. Japanese honeysuckle is a very fast growing plant, and can take over an area when left to itself. In many places, honeysuckle is not considered a beautiful, flowering plant at all but an invasive species. So, check out its status where you are located before planting honeysuckle in your backyard.

When you do prune the plant, it is often a good idea to remove a good portion of its growth. For instance, honeysuckle can be pruned back to two feet but if it is so severely pruned, it will not flower for a year. It will use all of its nutrients to grow new branches and leaves. Japanese honeysuckle will come back much bushier after this type of pruning.


If you want your honeysuckle not to miss a year of flowers, simply prune fewer branches off of the plant. If you want to slow down the new growth of honeysuckle, trim off around a third of the branches on the top of the plant. After pruning, water the plant, and then cover the ground underneath with a good layer of mulch, preferably wood chips. This will keep in the moisture and stop weeds from growing. Too many weeds will take away the nutrients the honeysuckle needs for its own growth. Do not fertilize right away but wait until after the new growth is well-established.

A few facts about honeysuckle:

There are over 175 different varieties of honeysuckle.

Many people plant honeysuckle to attract hummingbirds and butterflies to their gardens.

In Europe, the symbolism of honeysuckle is used to indicate lust.

Honeysuckle vines can grow to be twenty feet tall.