What to feed a honeysuckle

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The honeysuckle family (Lonicera spp.) consists of 180 species of shrubs and vines, producing fragrant showy flowers that are attractive to bees and hummingbirds.  Both the shrub and vine are easy to grow, requiring a small amount of care to thrive.


Step One

Watering - Newly-planted honeysuckle requires consistent watering, keeping the soil evenly moist until the plant starts growing vigorously on its own. Once established, water only during summer droughts of two weeks or more, giving the plant at least 1 inch of water a week. Place 2 inches of organic mulch around the base of the plant to reduce water evaporation from the soil.


Step Two

Fertilisation - If planted in fertile soil, honeysuckle does not need much, if any, fertiliser and will grow vigorously on its own. You can encourage blooming with a spring application of a low-nitrogen fertiliser, such as 2-10-10, 0-10-10 or 15-25-10. Fertilisers that have a higher or equal first number, such as 20-10-10 or 10-10-10, will have too much nitrogen and encourage flushes of foliage growth that will only make the plant susceptible to pest infestations.


Step Three

Pruning - Honeysuckle requires different pruning techniques for different types of plants. Vines that bloom on this year's growth, such as Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), require only maintenance pruning by clipping out dead, weak and over-long stems in the spring. Early-blooming vining varieties that flower on last year's growth, such as common honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum), can be cut back by one-third after blooming ends. If either type of vine is out of control, cut it back to 2 feet above the ground. Prune the deciduous honeysuckle bush right after flowering, removing old, weak and dead stems. To thin, cut about one-third of the old stems down to new growth. Trim evergreen bushes between spring and autumn as needed.


Step Four

Problems - In certain environments, some types of honeysuckle can become invasive. The most frequent offenders include the vine Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) and the bush honeysuckle varieties tartarian (Lonicera tatarica), morrow's (Lonicera morrowii), belle (Lonicera bella) and amur (Lonicera maackii). These grow quickly and can overcome other plants in the area. Aphids are often a problem for honeysuckle, invading flushes of new foliage growth. For drought-stressed honeysuckle, powdery mildew can also become a problem. Honeysuckle resists most pests and diseases other than the occasional leaf spots, blights and scale insects.


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