If honeysuckles are pruned improperly, it could mean the loss of flowers for the current or following year. Pruning of honeysuckles is relatively easy, though can be a bit messy if pruning a neglected climber that has wrapped itself around a structure for years.
Most will know Lonicera as climbing shrubs – better known as Honeysuckle. However, there are also group of Loniceras – or Honeysuckles – which are actually grown as shrubs.
There are different pruning regimes required for each time which also need to be carried out at the right time of year.
When to Prune Honeysuckle
Pruning is a necessary part of the care for your honeysuckle. You should prune all climbing Lonicera immediately after they have finished flowering each year – this will stop them from growing too tall or getting damaged in bad weather.
We will explain each pruning technique, but whichever technique you choose there is one golden rule: get the timing wrong or you will lose flower growth.
Pruning Climbing Lonicera – Honeysuckle Vines
Honeysuckle vines are relatively easy to prune, depending on the timing. If you have space for them to grow into large climbers, then trimming is only required by way of cutting back hard in late winter or early spring each year.
This allows new growths called “vines” that reach 2 metres long and will often flower at this time with their vibrant blossoms. These can be cut back as needed while they’re still young if necessary, so keep an eye out.
To keep the Lonicera periclymenum Serotina, Belgica, and Graham Thomas varieties in good shape for a longer period of time; they are best cut back right after flowering. These species tend to flower on growths made last year, which should be cut down just above strong new stem growth this summer.
The evergreen Lonicera japonica types – including the Halliana type – do not actually require pruning other than trimming to size. This should still be done in early spring as summer is too late. Wait too long and you will lose their flowers for a year.
The age of a climbing honeysuckle should not be an issue when it comes to pruning. In fact, many can benefit from being cut back hard in early spring. Some vines may need cutting at the first fork on the main trunk if they are large enough (3in or 75mm).
The climber will soon shoot out and you’ll have a new, “fresh-looking” vine. Honeysuckle Pruning is different than trimming – this way your plant has more time for growth, while just trimming could lead to stunted flowers later on as well as eventual death.
Pruning Shrub or Bush Honeysuckles
The shrub type honeysuckle, Winter flowering Lonicera fragrantissima types, or summer flowering Lonicera tatarica types can be pruned back to a strong new growth immediately after the flowers have bloomed.
The time of year will depend on what flower variety you are working with. If you cut these winter varieties back in mid-summer or later then that means cutting off all of the blooms that would have been active throughout winter.
If you prune the mid-summer types too late in the year or in the spring, you will lose the flowers for one year.
Winter and summer flowering shrubs need time to develop flower buds on new growth from last season before they can bloom.