Written by Dale Richardson - Updated: June 23, 2023
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Honeysuckle is an absolutely beautiful plant that a lot of gardeners love to grow. Whether it's your first time growing or you're a veteran gardener, there's a lot to remember. If your honeysuckle is not flowering (especially if it did last year), Fraffles is here to help!
The most common reasons that honeysuckle won't flower are a lack of sun, poor soil, too much fertiliser, aggressive pruning, and the plant's age.
Keep reading to learn the best ways to get your honeysuckle flowering, beautiful, and healthy with the least amount of work possible.
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There are a lot of reasons your honeysuckle plant may not be flowering. Just like most plants, honeysuckle is a very unique plant that has its own needs - and you need to cater to them if you want it to grow properly. Let's get into it, shall we?
Honeysuckle's natural environment is in woodlands, so it doesn't need a massive amount of sunlight. The key here is knowing how much shade is too much shade - honeysuckle tends to use its vines to grow upwards and reach sunlight.
Honeysuckle's ideal conditions (much like my own) are in good shade with the opportunity to reach sunlight if it wants. It generally wants light in spurts, rather than a full exposure over most of the day.
But how do you fix this after the fact? There are two options you'll have, depending on your garden:
Honeysuckle, again, is a woodland plant. This means that it thrives in hummus-rich soil with a hefty dose of mulch, ideally made of tree leaves.
Some gardens have great soil, while others don't - that's just the reality of gardening, you need to be aware of your soil. Fertilser is great to fix bad soil, but it needs to be used sparingly (but we'll get to that momentarily). It's even more important if you have:
Applying a ~10 cm layer of mulch or compost around your honeysuckle in spring will make it more likely to flower. If it's fighting other plants for nutrients, mulch likely won't cut it - adding fertiliser will improve its odds of flowering. Slow release fertiliser is great here, as it means you only need to fertilise the soil once, maybe twice a year, rather than on a schedule.
If you notice yellowed or drooping leaves, that's a sign that the honeysuckle is dying due to a lack of nutrients.
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This is where we discuss the importance of moderation. Yes, fertiliser will help keep your plants healthy - with a catch. Fertiliser is like a multivitamin for your plants. When you take too many multivitamins, bad things happen - it's the same for honeysuckle.
Are you noticing extremely long vines and large amounts of foliage? It's likely that your honeysuckle has been over-fertilised. If you're applying fertiliser monthly or more often (please don't!), this is what will happen.
And if you've applied lawn fertiliser recently, excess nitrogen can seep with rain into your honeysuckle's soil, changing how it grows.
Unfortunately, if you've over-fertilised, it's more of a learning experience than a "how do I fix this" type of deal. You'll just need to wait out the flowering season and fix your mistake next year.
Honeysuckle likes to grow up a bit before it flowers. Think of the first ~3 years of its life as prepubescence for plants. It's taking time to get strong and grow properly before it gets pretty and confident enough to grow flowers. Honeysuckle needs time to set up a healthy root system before it can flower, so if it's younger than three years, that's likely why your honeysuckle is not flowering.
Keep an eye out for these conditions, they'll inform you on whether it's old enough to flower or not:
This is the most common cuase of honeysuckle not flowering.
Overpruning or pruning at the wrong time can have disastrous results for your honesuckle plant in terms of flowering and general health.
The most common reasons honeysuckle won't flower are:
So when is the proper time to prune your honeysuckle?
This will vary on the plant and environment, but you generally want to prune honeysuckle right after the flowers drop. This is usually during late summer.
So don't be afraid of pruning the plant, just pick the right time! Try to go light on pruning the first year or two it's flowering to get an idea of what your plant needs. You can adjust as time continues. If you overprune, it may take a year or two to for flowers to regrow, so be careful.
One more note - any dead wood or growth can be pruned at any time. No need to wait for summer to trim dead ends.
While honeysuckle is beautiful and fun to have in your garden as a decorative piece, it needs careful love and attention. Ensuring it has proper access to sun, healthy soil, and fertiliser when needed will keep it healthy. And don't fret if your new plant doesn't flower in the first year or two - it needs time to grow strong and healthy before it flowers.
As long as you keep those factors in mind and prune resonsibly, you should have honeysuckle flowers everywhere in no time - just be patient and mindful of the plant's needs! And don't forget mulch - it'll be your best friend very quickly.
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