Elderly honeysuckle

I moved into a new house a year ago and there is an elderly honeysuckle which is grown as a kind of hedge outside.  It was lovely last year, covered in flower and smelt heavenly. It is just coming into flower now and is again covered with its lovely reddish flower buds.  In winter it is just twigs, and to be honest looks dead.  It put on very little new growth last year and doesn't twine like other honeysuckles I have known.  It is about three/four foot high along a low fence, although completely independent of it.  It is very leggy, the old branches are thumb thickness at the base, and the leaves are all about half way up.  I want to encourage lower growth as well as rejuvenating it if possible.  Presumably I should cut it back after flowering, but don't know if I should do it drastically, or cut back say a third this year and do it over three years?  If I did a drastic cut, would that stop it flowering next spring?


  • WintersongWintersong Posts: 2,436

    Generally speaking, honeysuckles are very vigorous so I wouldn't worry too much about renovation pruning.  You can cut back to a couple of feet from ground but time of year depends on the type you have, if you don't know then moderate the pruning and do it after flowers 

    One thing for all types is a darn good feed 

  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,407

    honeysuckle is as tough as old boots, wait until is finished flowering and then take it nearly to the floor (like 6 inches tall!!), that way you get some regrowth before autumn and flowers next year.

  • Meadow7Meadow7 Posts: 42

    The reason I was asking about this one is that it doesn't seem to be at all vigorous. I will ask the horses in the field opposite for a contribution towards feeding.  (obviously some of the older stuff!)  Thank you


  • Alan4711Alan4711 Posts: 1,569

    Hi M7 This year we cut a 9 foot Honey down to 14 inches, also just nothing flowering down below ,it now has just masses of new growth ,go to 

    https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=439  RHS is always a good starter for info



  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,407

    it might surprise you with how vigorous it will be when you cut it back, it will have slowed down as its getting to its max size, chop it back and it will grow back very quickly!

  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 3,611

    I inherited a 20yr old honeysuckle which was very leggy, full of mildew and just one huge untrained bird's nest. It was yellow & white & highly fragranced (name n/k).

    I bit the bullet and cut it really hard back (6 - 12"), gave it a feed & put in some plastic support netting. It was back to the original size (but a much better shape) within a year.  I think I attacked it in early spring - lost most of the flowers for one year but it had a whole season to grow away before any frosts.

    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • Meadow7Meadow7 Posts: 42

    Thank you Topbird, sounds promising, I think I will let it flower first though!  The neighbours will complain if it doesn't.


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