Both shrub and climbing types prefer a position of light shade or full sun. Climbing types are happy with their roots in a shady, cool place as long as their climbing stems can get to sunlight. In the wild they are woodland plants that enjoy the shade and protection of deciduous trees and shrubs – try and mimic this. A west-facing wall is ideal for the climbing types. Climbers can be grown in containers but they will never be as prolific as in garden soil.It is the flowers carried at the top of plants that need sun and warmth. Ideally place the plants so that the perfume can be easily enjoyed.
All honeysuckles will grow in most soil types but like many other plants prefer a well-drained, humus rich soil.
When planting the evergreen shrub, Lonicera nitida, consider
buying plants bare root in autumn or winter. For a dense hedge plant five small
plants per metre. Dig in well-rotted organic matter before planting.
Climbers are self-clinging but require a helping hand when young. If growing against a wall use galvanised wires on the wall and lead the plant to these by guiding stems with a garden cane. Water plants in well and feed with a general purpose fertiliser in spring.
Climbing types produce berries that carry the seed. If you can get to them before the birds remove the seed from the berries – a messy job. Sow fresh and leave the seeds to germinate in a cold frame or put the seeds in the refrigerator over winter. Mix the seed with compost and leave in the refrigerator for 12 weeks before sowing at a temperature of 15 degrees C. The seeds need a period of cold to initiate germination.
Honeysuckle aphid can be a real problem for climbing types. Leaves become distorted and curled as the sucking insects feed on the plant. Aphids excrete honeydew which then leads to sooty mould. Plants that are in poor health will be more prone to infestation. Prune out very badly infested shoots, or apply an insecticide.
Deciduous shrubby types,
such as the early summer flowering Lonicera tatarica, should be pruned after
flowering. Evergreen types that are often grown as topiary or tight hedges, such as Lonicera nitida, can
be trimmed in summer.
Climbers do not require pruning as they flower on the current season’s growth. The wild honeysuckle, Lonicera periclymenum, can be cut back by a third after flowering. All climbing types can be cut back in spring if they have outgrown their space.