Home Gardens Do You Need to Prune Honeysuckle?

Do You Need to Prune Honeysuckle?

by Faith McGee

Honeysuckle plants are either climbing vines or shrubs that gardeners use to landscape their yards. Because of the vigorous growing habits of honeysuckle vines and shrubs, gardeners must prune their plants annually. Pruning removes diseased, damaged and unhealthy areas off the honeysuckle plants. Pruning also gives gardeners the ability to maintain the honeysuckle\’s size.

Pruning Vines

Prune honeysuckle vines in the the late winter when the plant is still dormant. Gardeners growing an aggressive honeysuckle variety such as Japanese honeysuckle may prune their plants to the ground without hurting the plant. Often, pruning honeysuckles to the ground is not warranted unless the plant has gone neglected or is growing outside of its designated planting location. Honeysuckle vines grow up to 20 feet, so gardeners must prune back the plant to prevent it from interfering with nearby vegetation.

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Pruning Shrubs

Prune honeysuckle shrubs in the spring after the plant has blossomed. Honeysuckle shrubs produce buds in the early fall and winter for springtime blooms. Pruning late in the season reduces the number of blooms. Honeysuckle shrubs grow up to 15 feet tall and 15 feet wide. Cutting back some of the stems helps gardeners maintain the shrub\’s shape and prevents the top portion of the plant from shading the bottom portion.


Deadheading is a pruning practice that removes spent heads or blossoms off plants. When gardeners deadhead honeysuckle vines and shrubs, the plant conserves the energy it would use to produce seedpods. Also, wilted flowers on honeysuckle plants are not attractive, so pruning restores the aesthetic value of the plant. To deadhead spent blooms, use your thumb and index finger to gently snap off the flowers. Rake the flowers up to prevent creating a hospitable environment for pests.

Other Factors

Honeysuckle vines and shrubs sometimes contract diseases such as leaf blight. When honeysuckle plants contract a disease anytime of year, the diseased portions of the plant must be removed. Removing diseased portions of the plant prevents the disease from spreading to the honeysuckle or nearby plants. Sterilize your pruning tools with a mixture of 70 percent denatured alcohol and 30 percent water. Rake up diseased debris underneath the plant; throw out or burn debris, but do not place in the compost pile.

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