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Can I grow honeysuckle up a tree?

Probably my silliest question so far but please bear with me.

Recently, my "overgrown" ash tree has been trimmed (rather badly) and the large amount of arboreal ivy that was in the canopy has been removed. All in all, not a great situation in terms of looks, health and habitats for wildlife - I found nesting material all over the fallen ivy, 20 years of habitat destroyed in a day because it had taken over the tree. Granted, the 100 year old tree may not live for much longer due to the botched job increasing the risk of infection by ash dieback disease but it will have at least a few more years.

I've put up some roosting pockets and will put proper birdhouses at the end of February but I'd like to undo my mistakes and offer some natural long lasting cover in the tree canopy. I don't have the space for a proper hawthorn hedge and although I'm creating a mixed honeysuckle trellis line along a boundary and a narrowish pyracantha hedge, these will take a while to become living-worthy for the birds. I read that butterflies, bats and moths also use ivy to hibernate/roost in trees and they can't exactly do that now (luckily no bats were roosting when cut).

My question is, can I grow another climber such as honeysuckle up the tree to provide the same sort of cover and benefit as the ivy did, but without the negatives of the ivy? I know I know, I just removed a problem-causing climber and now I want to put another one but my thinking is that honeysuckle isn't as vigorous or dense as ivy. I mean, both are vigorous climbers but honeysuckle can't go to the extent that ivy can. I basically want it to grow bushy around the "v"s in the branches which is where birds make their nests.

The tree itself was pollarded at some point in its life so the trunk is only 2.4m tall and the main stems reach up to between 10-15 metres, so the honeysuckle would get to about halfway up I guess. How would I enable the climber to get a footing in the branches and wrap around them?

Perhaps my idea is too outlandish...

As you can see, the left is what it looked like - bad for the tree but great for nature - and the right is the current state - more a wooden structure than tree.
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  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 17,989
    Personally, I’d plant a couple of Clematis montana and maybe a Clematis armandii for a bit of winter greenery and just leave them to it.


    Nothing will be as good as the ivy was and you are going to wait a fair few years, but they will be better than honeysuckle.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • pansyface said:
    Personally, I’d plant a couple of Clematis montana and maybe a Clematis armandii for a bit of winter greenery and just leave them to it.


    Nothing will be as good as the ivy was and you are going to wait a fair few years, but they will be better than honeysuckle.

    Thanks for the suggestion! The tree has around 6 big stems so would I be fine with growing 4 plants (different varieties) on it? I like the seedheads of clematis
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 17,989
    edited November 2020
    I have Clematis montana Rubens (the bog standard pink one) and its white equivalent, Alba. They are both rampant climbers. I also have a Clematis montana Mayleen, which although a good scrambler is somewhat less vigorous.

    You could throw in a rambling rose such as Rambling Rector. I have one and it’s at the top of a thirty foot high ancient apple tree. I do nothing to it. It waves around in the wind until it finds something to get its claws into and then it sets off again.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • pansyface said:
    I have Clematis montana Rubens (the bog standard pink one) and its white equivalent, Alba. They are both rampant climbers. I also have a Clematis montana Mayleen, which although a good scrambler is somewhat less vigorous.

    You could throw in a rambling rose such as Rambling Rector. I have one and it’s at the top of a thirty foot high ancient apple tree. I do nothing to it. It waves around in the wind until it finds something to get its claws into and then it sets off again.

    Wow that rose would certainly look stunning on the tree! Those clematis varieties look lovely, thank you once again :)
  • I had a Bill Mackenzie Clematis growing up a tree. Long flowering season, and a beautiful sight in full bloom.
  • Aaah. I love Clematis and it is my No.1 garden plant. But honeysuckle is so wonderful  and it has of course ,one thing clematis doesn't...scent. It can't compete with Clematis in terms of impact, but it will tolerate hot, sunny positions, which in general clematis doesn't. Grow one in a pot as above, you will not regret it.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 66,268
    edited November 2020
    Honeysuckle is not suitable for pot or container growing, and do not do well in hot sunny situations.  It needs deep cool damp root runs. It is a plant of damp woodland fringes and hedge and ditch banks.  

    Every summer we get countless queries from folk whose pot grown honeysuckles have succumbed to powdery mildew because they’ve been too dry at the roots. 

    Do a search on here for honeysuckle and see how many are about honeysuckles which has leaves going black or yellow and powdery and falling off. 



    Feet in deep cool and damp soil with lots of organic matter, and face in the sun ... that’s what honeysuckle needs. 

    There are scented clematis ... see here https://www.taylorsclematis.co.uk/clematis-scented-clematis/ 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • Seems like clematis is the one to go for then!
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 66,268
    Your ash may well regrow ... ours was cut back about ten years ago ... this is a pic of it last month 


    we had it repollarded a fortnight ago




    and the tree surgeon fully expects it to put out fresh growth in the spring despite it having a touch of dieback. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • Your ash may well regrow ... ours was cut back about ten years ago ... this is a pic of it last month 


    we had it repollarded a fortnight ago




    and the tree surgeon fully expects it to put out fresh growth in the spring despite it having a touch of dieback. 

    wow how old is your tree? I was worried that if mine was pollarded or cut back a bit more then it would die
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