The Q&A Archives: Yellowing Leaves on Giant Burmese Honeysuckle

Question: I am puzzled with yellowing leaves and leaf drop on an otherwise healthy plant. I am new to this garden. The vine is growing in a patio with a two story building on one side. I have an umbrella which blocks sun to the lower portion of the plant. My memory is that the former owner also had an umbrella in the same position. Does this plant need sun on all the leaves?
What about water? Does it like to be wet?

It has flowers and new growth but definitely looks worse than it did a month ago. Any information or advice appreciated.

Answer: Burmese honeysuckle will grow in full sun to part shade so I don't think the placement of an umbrella is what is causing the lower leaves to yellow and drop. Lonicera (honeysuckle) flowers on new shoots and the natural tendency of your plant is to grow upwards and produce new flowering shoots. Therefore, the lower leaves are expendable and are dropped by the plant. To keep it from becoming bare and leggy, you'll want to prune it back early each spring, as new growth begins. If you cut some of the oldest vines down to ground level, your plant will produce one or two new flowering shoots, which will help keep the lower and middle parts of the plant full and lush. Most honeysuckles get along with little water, but the Bermese likes moist, well-draining soils. A deep soaking once a week should keep it happy. Hold off on fertilizer, though. Too much nitrogen will result in lots of green growth at the expense of flowers. Your plant will flower all summer and on into fall, as long as the weather is warm. You can wait until flowering stops to prune it back, or wait until next spring. Once you begin to prune on a regular basis you'll be able to remove a few of the oldest vines each year withou changing the size or shape of your honeysuckle to any great degree. It will be constantly renewing itself and that will give it a fresh, healthy appearance. Best wishes with your landscape!

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