How to plant and care for common honeysuckle

How to plant and care for common honeysuckle

Plant traits
Common name Common honeysuckle, European honeysuckle, wood plant
You can live the life of the zoya Lonicera is in danger
family Caprifoliaceae
Plant type Perennial, ground cover, vine
Mature size 12-20 feet tall, 3-6 feet wide
Sun exposure Partial, spotted
Soil type Moist, well-drained, rich
Soil pH Slightly acidic to slightly alkaline (5.5 to 8.0)
Bloom time For spring and summer
Flower color Pink, orange, yellow and white
Hardiness zones Zones 5-9 (USDA)
Original area Europe and North Africa
Poisoning Toxic to pets, toxic to people
Tom Maker/Getty Images

Common honeysuckle care

Honeysuckle is a hardy plant and can grow under difficult conditions, but it does not do well in waterlogged soil. Pinning, wire or trellises will help create these flowering vines. In the South, common honeysuckle does best in moderate temperatures and partial sun. Watering regularly during dry periods and using rich, well-drained soil will help these plants thrive. If your garden does not have fertile soil, it may be necessary to amend it with compost. Depending on the location, regular pruning will prevent this type of overgrowth.

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Common honeysuckle prefers to grow in partial sun in hotter climates as this plant is used to living in the canopy of a tree. The plant can burn in full sun in the South, but it will produce more flowers if it has plenty of morning sunlight. Plant honeysuckle in an area that resembles native forest, which protects the roots with more shade and allows them to branch out to reach the light. Common honeysuckle can do well in dim sunlight, but in deep shade it is susceptible to powdery mildew and may not flower.


Common honeysuckle grows in most soil types but prefers organically rich, moist, well-drained soil. Any fertile soil supports honeysuckle as long as it is not saturated. This plant is not particular about soil pH and will thrive in an acidic, neutral or slightly alkaline environment.


If your area experiences long dry spells during the summer, remember to water your honeysuckle. New plants need constant watering. Once established, honeysuckle is relatively drought-tolerant but still needs some moisture—about 1 inch of water from rain or hand watering each week. Mulching or adding compost can help honeysuckle retain moisture. Since honeysuckle vines climb, make sure the roots receive water around the base.

Temperature and humidity

Common honeysuckle can be grown throughout the South except the tropical South. Some varieties of this hardy plant can also be grown in Zone 4. Excessive heat and humidity can lead to powdery mildew and other fungal diseases, but some so-called varieties are more disease-resistant.


Honeysuckle prefers soil rich in organic matter. If your soil needs enrichment, add a few inches of compost in early spring. You can also apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer according to label directions every year in early spring.

Common honeysuckle species

These popular honeysuckle varieties are known for their beautiful flowers as well as their compact size suitable for any garden:

  • 'Peaches and Cream': Dreamy, multi-colored flowers begin with purplish-red buds that open to reveal a soft pink interior that fades to peach. This variety reaches about 6 or 8 feet tall and has improved disease resistance.
  • 'Sweet Tea': Creamy white and yellow honeysuckle lightly tinged with pink. 'Sweet Tea' is very compact, growing to 5 or 6 feet tall.
  • 'Odor': The flowers bloom creamy to bright buttery yellow. This variety can grow to about 10 feet tall.


Common honeysuckle does not require significant pruning, but pruning the plant after it is well established can help improve its appearance and health. Common honeysuckle blooms on the previous year's growth, with the first bloom in spring and sporadic blooms in summer. Maintain the health of the vine by removing dead and damaged branches at any time.

Wait to do further pruning after flowering in late summer so you don't remove the flower buds that have formed. Snip curly vines to improve the plant's appearance or cut the entire plant by one-third to control size. If you want to achieve maximum flowering in a tight space, you can cut all the side shoots into short spurs, leaving two or three buds on each spur.

If you have an old plant that looks bare, abandoned, or just plain unattractive, you can rejuvenate your honeysuckle by cutting it back to 2 feet above the ground in late winter. The plant will send out new shoots. Provide support for those shoots while also removing weak stems.

Propagation of common honeysuckle

Propagate common honeysuckle through semi-mature cuttings, layering or from seed. While all of these options will provide new honeysuckle plants, using cuttings is an easy way to propagate honeysuckle. Here's how to propagate common honeysuckle using cuttings:

  1. Using sharp, sterilized shears, take semi-mature, 6-inch cuttings from one-year-old vines on the honeysuckle plant in the morning during the summer. The stems will be firm but flexible and the cuts should be at an angle.
  2. Remove the lower leaves and place in a cup of water if you are not going to plant right away.
  3. Dip the bottom end of each cutting in rooting hormone powder. Place the cuttings in a well-draining pot filled with potting mix, then place the bare part of the stem under soil, leaving the leaves exposed. Water well.
  4. Place it in a warm place with bright light but away from direct sunlight. Keep the soil slightly moist at all times. To prevent wilting, mist the leaves with water to keep them moist or cover them with a clear plastic bag, using stakes if necessary so the plastic doesn't come into contact with the plants. You can remove the plastic once the plants start rooting.
  5. Roots should appear after a few weeks so you can transplant it into its new location.

How to grow common honeysuckle from seeds

Growing honeysuckle from seed is another way to propagate this plant. Save seeds from the bright red berries that fall in the fall, or purchase some from a garden center. After collecting the seeds, plant them directly in a pot filled with soil or keep them in a cool place to start indoors, depending on the time of year. These seeds need to be cold to germinate, so add them to the compost mixture before putting them in the refrigerator. Keep seeds refrigerated for about 12 weeks and remove them in the spring to sow.

Potting and replanting common honeysuckle

Common honeysuckle can be grown successfully in containers. Choose a container that is twice as wide as the plant's pot, as the roots require plenty of room to grow. Make sure the container has drainage holes and that the plant is not sitting in water. However, keep in mind that containers dry out quickly and require more frequent watering than garden soil.

Use a high-quality, well-draining potting mix, and place the plant so the root ball is directly on the surface of the soil. You can place a trellis or stake in the pot to support the vines, or place the pot along a fence or wall (you may need to use ties to support the vines, the latter method will make it difficult to move the pot if necessary). Once the roots grow out of the pot, repot the plant into a larger pot using fresh potting mix.


Winter care is relatively simple in the South. Mulching helps protect honeysuckle roots when temperatures drop. In the fall, apply three to four inches of straw or compost around the base of the plant. You don't need to fertilize honeysuckle during the winter, because dormant plants cannot absorb nutrients.

Common plant pests and diseases

Common honeysuckle is relatively susceptible to diseases and pests. Some fungi, such as leaf blight, cause leaves to curl or become distorted. Prune damaged or diseased foliage to stop the spread of the disease. Powdery mildew and leaf spot occur in humid climates. Make sure the plant has good air circulation and spray with an appropriate fungicide if the problem becomes severe.

Some pests of common honeysuckle include aphids, scale insects, and caterpillars, which insecticidal soap can control. A gentle spray of water is often enough to remove pests from the plant.

How to get common honeysuckle to bloom

With common honeysuckle, more sunlight encourages more blooms. Common honeysuckle planted in shaded areas will bloom less well. In the South, a good rule of thumb is to choose a planting site that has direct morning sunlight and light shade during the hottest hours of the day. It can take some time for a plant to grow, so younger honeysuckle may not reach its full flowering potential for at least three years. Maintaining proper care and limiting pruning in late summer will help your plant show off its best blooms and foliage.

Common problems with common honeysuckle

Common honeysuckle is a relatively easy plant, but there are still some problems. Aphids are the most likely pest of honeysuckle, while others may appear due to improper care.

Curling leaves

After an aphid infestation, honeysuckle is left with curled or distorted foliage because the pest's secretion causes rot. Aphids are more likely to attack plants in shaded environments. Remove infected branches or leaves and apply insecticidal soap.

Leaves turn black/brown

A plant pathogen called sudden oak death can spread to garden-grown honeysuckle through the soil, although it is more common in wooded areas. If infested, honeysuckle stems and foliage turn brown or black around the edges. If caught early, removing damaged or diseased branches may save the plant. Leaf spots and excess fertilizer are reasons why honeysuckle can turn brown.

Frequently asked questions

  • Should I plant common honeysuckle in my garden?

    Common honeysuckle is a beautiful, compact, sweet-smelling honeysuckle suitable for home gardens. According to the U.S. Forest Service, common honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) is not considered invasive, making it a safe choice for planting.

  • What is the difference between common honeysuckle and invasive Japanese honeysuckle?

    Both common honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) and invasive Japanese honeysuckle (L. japonica) are vines with shared traits. However, Japanese honeysuckle vines can grow much larger, sometimes climbing as high as 120 feet. The cream or yellow flowers of Japanese honeysuckle are arranged in pairs and are followed by black or purple berries. Common honeysuckle bears flower-shaped flowers and has bright red fruits.

  • What are some alternatives to common honeysuckle?

    There are a number of native honeysuckles that you can grow. Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is a popular vine for home gardens. Although they have no scent, the red or orange trumpet flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies, and songbirds enjoy the berries.

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