The Q&A Archives: Mandarin Honeysuckle

Question: I recently bought a Mandarin Honeysuckle. It is about 5 ft. tall and we have been enjoying it out on our deck. We left it in the original container. We have had it about a month now. Suddenly, it is looking almost dead. The leaves have been turning yellow and falling off. It now has only 2 flowers on it. It has an eastern exposure. To look at it one would think that it has almost died. What can we do to save what was once a beautiful plant?

Answer: Mandarin honeysuckle is tolerant of all kinds of soil types and moisture content, from barely dry to very moist. It also will grow in part to full sun, but the roots need to remain cool. I wonder if the container was in full sunshine? If so, heat can actually cook the roots (or steam them if the soil is moist). You might want to move the plant so the top is in sun but the container is shaded. Prune it back a bit to encourage new shoots; don't fertilize at all, and make sure to water when the top inch of soil is dry. Sometimes containerized plants develop air pockets within the root mass and even though you water until it pours out of the drainage holes, there may still be air pockets within the soil. To avoid this, periodically immerse the container in a larger container of water. Leave it submerged for 15-20 minutes, or until no more air bubbles rise to the top. Then allow to drain. Do this every 2-3 weeks and you'll be sure your containerized plants are getting adequate water. Best wishes with your mandarin honeysuckle!

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