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Do Honeysuckle and Clematis plants have an average life expectancy?
We planted one of each about 4 years ago to climb up a small wall and onto our patio railings. Afer 1st year they had found their way round the railings and got better each year, but last year they both became very woody and bare and looked very sorry for themselves.
Do they need digging up or is there a way I can save them?
No, don't dig them up - you can rejuvenate them by pruning. If you'd pruned them every year they wouldn't have got to this state, but no matter now, you can save them.
I would cut the honeysuckle hard back to about 2 ft from the ground this weekend, then when they begin to grow in the spring (whenever that comes) just spread the tie the new growth out over the wall and railings and tie it in so it covers as much area as possible and it will grow away just fine. I'd give it a mulch of some good compost as well (not touching the stem).
You'll be able to rejuvenate the clematis too, but we need to know what sort it is - do you know? If not do you have any pictures of it in flower? Or can you tell us about the flower type/size/colour then we'll have a go
It would help if you knew what the clematis was (group; name or any photos), personally i would cut both back to about "12" / "18" asap, as they are established plants they would definitely send new young shoots once cut back.