Pruning overgrown bushes - Knowledgebase Question

Hillsboro, Il
Question by findjulie
February 11, 2010
I've recently acquired a very old house/yard with a history of gardeners, and some plants that could be up to 100 years old or more. I don't want to destroy anything worthwhile, but am still trying to figure out just what I have. Most everything is overgrown with vines, except these very tall and overgrown bushes I've been told are Japanese Honeysuckle. How far can I cut them back and when?

Answer from NGA
February 11, 2010


I'm sure you will uncover lots of treasures in your new landscape! Probably even find some old fashioned plants that are no longer readily available. You're wise in going about the renovation process with caution. With the exception of Japanese Honeysuckle! The Japanese honeysuckle vine is one of the more aggressive and vigorous growing of all vines. If you have a Japanese honeysuckle vine you don't have to worry about the right time of the year to prune. You can prune this variety almost any time due to the vigor of its growth. I'd prune it back now so you can concentrate on the other plants in your garden this spring.

A general rule of thumb is to prune flowering shrubs immediately after they have finished flowering. And, you can generally remove up to one third of the live plant material in any one pruning session without compromising its health. If the plant needs even more pruning, do it over a 2-3 year period to get it back down to size. This will allow the plant to recover after each pruning session. When you finally determine just what you are growing, why not attach a label to the plant? This way you can look it up again and again if you forget when it flowers or when it needs to be pruned.

Best wishes with your new garden!

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