Woodbine is the common name for this Honeysuckle that provides a strong sweet scent in the cottage garden from the end of May. The climbing twining Honeysuckles are part of a large family of Lonicera that also includes a range of shrubby plants.
For sweetly flowering honeysuckle in winter try Lonicera fragrantissima or Lonicera Standishii whilst the best flowering summer species are the evergreen Lonicera Japonica. Sacrificing some scent for colour tryLonicera tellmannianawith flowers that are orange with red streaks on the outside or ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ for a terrific summer show of long scarlet flowers.
Belgica or the later flowering Serotina are true Honeysuckles that with a little support on a wall will scramble away to 10 feet or more. They will twine through branches of other trees quite happily and combine with robust roses to good effect.
Honeysuckle can be cultivated from cuttings and I have one plant that has had progeny in 5 gardens over the last 50 years as I moved house.
- After flowering in the Autumn shearing over excessive growth removing most of the side shoots is helpful particularly where all the growth is at the top of a wall or fence. Try maintain shrubby growth up the plant not just at the top.
- For overgrown specimens ruthlessly cut them back in the autumn or winter using loppers to reduce the plant to 24in in height. In spring vigorous new shoots should be trained so the whole of their support structure is clad from base to top.
- Continually pinching out the growing tips stimulates bushy growth.
- Lonicera japonica and late flowering Honeysuckle should be pruned back in spring to keep them within bounds.
- Flowers are unlikely to develop until new growth stabilises but within a couple of years flowering should be back to normal.
- Apply a general fertiliser, water and mulch to allow the Honeysuckle to recover.