When we think about gardens, we usually concentrate on what grows in the ground. But what about plants that grow on the walls? Learn when to plant honeysuckle and how to help it transform your wall or fence into a place of liveliness.
When to plant honeysuckle: The best time to plant honeysuckle is in the spring. Wait until the last frost date in your area, which is sometime in April or May. Honeysuckle grows very quickly so be prepared with a trellis for support. You will have some blooms in the first summer after planting but you can expect even more blooms after a year or two of growth.
Planting Honeysuckle in Different Climates
Honeysuckle definitely thrives in a tropical climate. The plant loves full sunshine and will branch out to find new light sources.
With a tropical climate, the only issue to be aware of is overly moist soil. Add a layer of bark mulch to help with moist soil and to protect the honeysuckle’s roots.
Honeysuckle will not do well in a dry climate. The plant prefers soil that is moist and with a dry climate, there simply is not enough rainfall to sustain its growth.
Another beneficial place to grow honeysuckle is in a temperate climate. The rainfall in the spring and fall means you won’t have to worry about watering, although you should make sure the soil can drain really well.
Furthermore, the mild winter temperatures won’t be a shock to honeysuckle so it won’t die off once the snow arrives. Some varieties are also evergreen so you can have life in your garden year-round.
A continental climate is not the best for honeysuckle. The winters are far too cold and will shock the perennial plant.
With a lack of sunshine and temperatures that are often below freezing, a polar climate is not ideal for honeysuckle.
Benefits of Honeysuckle
Honeysuckle can get a bad wrap due to its fast-growing nature and the fact there are some invasive species. However, it does have a lot of advantages.
First, the plant is pretty to look at. The colorful blooms last throughout summer and the foliage can cover an unsightly wall or fence.
Honeysuckle is also deer resistant. This is a great option if you live in a rural area and are tired of losing the battle against deer and their appetites.
Finally, honeysuckle produces a small fruit that is red or blue in color. This fruit, which is full of tiny seeds can be mildly poisonous to humans but perfectly edible for birds.
Choosing Honeysuckle Seeds
Perhaps the most obvious when we think about this plant, honeysuckle in a vine form will grow up a wall or fence thanks to its small tendrils. It is best to train honeysuckle vines with a lattice so that it grows where you want in a more controlled manner.
This type of honeysuckle is often seen as invasive so is not very popular in a garden. If you do plant it by mistake, it will quickly take over anything near it, including other plants, so be careful with it.
If you love honeysuckle but want it more contained, try a shrub variety. It grows outwards as well as upwards and can be used as a hedge or a container accent on your patio.
How to Plant Honeysuckle Seeds
The best time to plant honeysuckle is in the spring. Wait until the threat of frost has passed and then you can plant it in your garden. Honeysuckle grows quickly so if you have to wait further into May to plant it, it will still bloom that summer.
Sunshine is key for honeysuckle. The shade will not create the bold blooms that you are looking for, so be sure to plant honeysuckle in full sun.
The only aspect you should consider is that the roots of honeysuckle prefer shadier areas. If this is hard to achieve, you can add a layer of mulch to protect them from the heat.
For the most part, honeysuckle is not very picky about soil. In fact, it does fine in both acidic and alkaline soil, including pH levels between 5.5 and 8.0.
To give your honeysuckle the best start, add plenty of organic matter such as compost. The vine grows quickly and will need plenty of nutrients so starting out right will help it grow.
The soil should also be well-draining. Dig up the area where you want to plant to ensure the soil isn’t compacted.
Most varieties of honeysuckle are vines so they need support to grow. While honeysuckle may be able to grow upwards on its own, it won’t be even and you run the risk of it falling off or even causing damage.
Always install your support system before you plant. Honeysuckle grows quickly so if there is something for it to grow on, it will move in the direction you want it to.
A trellis or pole will suffice. Just make sure the structure is secure to support the full weight of the plant.
When placing your support structure, it should be about 6 inches away from the plant. Don’t worry as the tendrils of your honeysuckle plant will still be able to find the support system.
How to Water Honeysuckle
While honeysuckle prefers moist soil, it does not like dirt that is too soggy. This is a fine balance and you may need to experiment with watering.
Try to water every other day unless temperatures are very hot. When in doubt, simply place a finger in the soil to test how moist it is.
How to Grow Honeysuckle
Mulch and compost
To help protect the roots from sunshine, as well as to keep the soil moist, add a layer of mulch around your honeysuckle plants. This should be done each spring.
You can also get into the habit of side-dressing the area with a layer of compost. This will add important nutrients to the area. Add your compost at the same time as your mulch.
You can help navigate your honeysuckle so that it grows in the direction you want it to. This is especially important if you want it to cover a pergola or arbor.
Use a stretchy material, such as plastic tape to gently attach the vines along the support system. Make sure the material doesn’t rub against the vines as this can weaken them.
It’s best to make a figure-eight with the material so that one part goes around the stem and the other part goes around the structure.
Because honeysuckle grows so quickly, you can perform light pruning any time in the year. Just clip off parts that are unruly and move other vines back towards the support structure.
In the fall, large parts of your honeysuckle will become dormant. When this happens, you can perform a more thorough pruning to tidy the structure up.
Look for any dead branches or damaged stems. When pruning, cut the branch back to where another stem is growing.
Some varieties of honeysuckle are evergreen and won’t become dormant in the winter. To prune these, wait until the end of the blooming season so that new buds aren’t inadvertently removed.
How long does honeysuckle take to grow?
The first summer after planting your honeysuckle should see some blooms. However, it is not until the plant is two or three years old that it will be awash in flowers.
Honeysuckle is a perennial plant. While some varieties may go dormant in the winter, others will remain evergreen. All will keep growing and produce flowers each summer.
Is honeysuckle invasive?
You may be hesitant to add honeysuckle to your garden because it has a reputation for being invasive. While the types of honeysuckle that you can find at your local gardening center will not be invasive, they will grow prolifically if not pruned.
While there are native species of honeysuckle that are meant for areas in North America, the problem is with foreign varieties that have been brought over from other parts of the world can dominate their new locales, which is how they get the term invasive.
Invasive honeysuckle is indeed an issue. The plant quickly takes over and will disrupt the growth of native plants. They then cause light and nutrient issues with plants that are part of a natural ecosystem.
Finally, while honeysuckle is a source of food for some birds, invasive honeysuckle often does not have the appropriate nutrients that native bird species need. A lack of food sources means migratory birds won’t have enough nourishment to complete large flights.
Honeysuckle is thought to be invasive by some people but really it’s a matter of perspective. Often found in vine form, honeysuckle will grow upwards and prefers a lattice or pole to keep it steady. Plant honeysuckle in the spring after the last frost date and it will start to flower that same summer.