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Pruning is one of the most important gardening jobs for climbing plants, and honeysuckle is no exception. The sweetly fragranced flowers are particularly attractive to pollinators and can be very beneficial for your garden, but only if the plant is healthy enough to produce fresh blooms. So when is the best time to prune this “romantic” climber? Express.co.uk reveals the three key timings you need to know to help your honeysuckle plant flourish.
When to prune honeysuckle
Training and cutting back the sprawling vines is crucial to keep the display of summer flowers looking vibrant and smelling sweet, but you need to know which type you’re growing before going in with the secateurs.
According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), there are three key points in the year when honeysuckle should be pruned to “keep it healthy” and secure “abundant flowers”.
These are spring, summer and late winter – but what should you do at each seasonal interval?
Late-flowering honeysuckle should be pruned in spring to secure flowers in the warmth of summer.
The RHS explained that late-flowering types flower on the current season’s growth, so only require “a trim and tidy up”.
Hard pruning should be avoided at this point in the year as it could reduce the chances of your honeysuckle flowering.
Instead, prune the delicate vines by removing weak and damaged shoots only.
The robust framework should always be left intact to support flowering from June to September.
When the peak of summer is over and the plant has finished producing new flowers, a more vigorous pruning should be done to remove old growth.
This is best done on early flowering types which will finish growing fresh blooms by the end of August.
According to the RHS, flowers are produced on “short side shoots” on the previous season’s growth and should be cut back by around one-third.
Side shoots should be reduced to short spurs of 2-3 buds which come from the main stems.
Late-summer pruning is done to maximise flowers on posts and in “tight spaces”.
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Pruning honeysuckle in spring and summer is a more delicate task, but the winter is the perfect opportunity to “renovate” the plant.
To complete the renovation prune in the cold season, make more drastic cuts to reduce the stems.
The RHS recommended that stems are cut back to a height of just 60cm in order to stimulate new shoots.
You’ll know where to make the cuts if you work through the plant by choosing the strongest and best-placed stems to establish a new framework.
Resurrecting the frame of sprawling vines will act as a solid support for your plant to grow throughout the summer.
The RHS said: “This is a useful method for re-starting a honeysuckle that has become very congested and bare at the bottom.”
If you want to add a honeysuckle plant to your garden, it’s not too late.
This stunning climber can be planted all year round from established plug plants, though the best results will come from plantain deciduous varieties in winter and evergreens in spring or autumn.
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