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I moved into a new house a year ago and there is an elderly honeysuckle which is grown as a kind of hedge outside.  It was lovely last year, covered in flower and smelt heavenly. It is just coming into flower now and is again covered with its lovely reddish flower buds.  In winter it is just twigs, and to be honest looks dead.  It put on very little new growth last year and doesn't twine like other honeysuckles I have known.  It is about three/four foot high along a low fence, although completely independent of it.  It is very leggy, the old branches are thumb thickness at the base, and the leaves are all about half way up.  I want to encourage lower growth as well as rejuvenating it if possible.  Presumably I should cut it back after flowering, but don't know if I should do it drastically, or cut back say a third this year and do it over three years?  If I did a drastic cut, would that stop it flowering next spring?

Wintersong

Generally speaking, honeysuckles are very vigorous so I wouldn't worry too much about renovation pruning.  You can cut back to a couple of feet from ground but time of year depends on the type you have, if you don't know then moderate the pruning and do it after flowers 

One thing for all types is a darn good feed 

treehugger80

honeysuckle is as tough as old boots, wait until is finished flowering and then take it nearly to the floor (like 6 inches tall!!), that way you get some regrowth before autumn and flowers next year.

The reason I was asking about this one is that it doesn't seem to be at all vigorous. I will ask the horses in the field opposite for a contribution towards feeding.  (obviously some of the older stuff!)  Thank you

 

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treehugger80

it might surprise you with how vigorous it will be when you cut it back, it will have slowed down as its getting to its max size, chop it back and it will grow back very quickly!

Topbird

I inherited a 20yr old honeysuckle which was very leggy, full of mildew and just one huge untrained bird's nest. It was yellow & white & highly fragranced (name n/k).

I bit the bullet and cut it really hard back (6 - 12"), gave it a feed & put in some plastic support netting. It was back to the original size (but a much better shape) within a year.  I think I attacked it in early spring - lost most of the flowers for one year but it had a whole season to grow away before any frosts.

Thank you Topbird, sounds promising, I think I will let it flower first though!  The neighbours will complain if it doesn't.

 

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