If you are the proud owner of a honeysuckle plant, you surely look forward to seeing its spectacular blooms every spring! But things might not always go as expected, especially if your plant is not growing under the right conditions to promote flowering.
If you are wondering why your honeysuckle is not flowering, we might have the answer for you here. Plants that fail to bloom when they should are often over-pruned or are not getting adequate sunlight, water, or soil nutrients. Read on to learn how to correct these issues and boost your plant’s flowering in the next season.
In what month do honeysuckles bloom?
The most exciting part of growing honeysuckles is witnessing their lovely clusters of flowers bursting from their branches.
Depending on the variety, honeysuckles typically bloom from June until September or October. Certain cultivars of this plant are classified according to their time of flowering – some can bloom in early spring, while others might flower in mid or late spring.
If you live in a warmer zone, however, then you are especially in luck, as your honeysuckle will likely bloom all year round.
Why is my honeysuckle not flowering?
1. Pruning at the wrong time
Pruning your honeysuckle in winter or early spring will hinder its flowering process.
Honeysuckles do not produce their flowers from new growth; these plants only bloom once they reach full maturity. Most varieties tend to flower on side shoots from the previous growing season. So, if you prune them too early – in spring, for example – you will also eliminate their flowers.
While pruning your honeysuckle annually can be beneficial, pruning too heavily will only stimulate the growth of foliage at the expense of flowers. If your goal is to achieve vigorous blooms, it is best to limit or avoid cutting back the growth that will support the flowers in the next blooming season.
2. Lack of sunlight
Honeysuckles are sun-loving plants. In their natural habitat, the vining varieties tend to climb up trees or hedgerows to get the optimum levels of sunlight to thrive. If your honeysuckle is dropping leaves and failing to produce flowers, it is possibly receiving less light than it needs.
Honeysuckles that are grown in too much shade can produce significantly fewer flowers, and the plants may also die back. To achieve a good display of flowers, make sure you plant yours in a sunny location with moist soil. It will happily flower in partial sunlight, too.
You may also consider trimming the branches of nearby trees that cast shade on your honeysuckle in the garden. Alternatively, you might need to transplant it to a brighter location. Whatever works best for you – just make sure that your plant is getting a good dose of sunshine daily to produce abundant flowers.
3. Too much fertilizer
Honeysuckles thrive in soil that is rich in organic matter. While frequent applications of fertilizer can promote bushier growth of the foliage, too much fertilizer can also hinder the flowering process, especially if you are using a fertilizer high in nitrogen.
Excess nitrogen that has washed away from a nearby treated lawn or garden can also significantly affect the flowering of your plant. Unfortunately, once the fertilizer has been absorbed, it is probably too late – the flowers are unlikely to bloom and you will have to wait for the next growing season.
4. Lack of nutrients
While too much fertilizer can limit the flowering process, so can a lack of nutrients. In their native habitat, honeysuckles thrive in woodland soil where they receive a steady supply of nutrients from leaf litter and other organic matter. Hence, these conditions must be emulated to achieve the best display of flowers.
Enriching the soil with mulch and other organic fertilizers is especially important if your honeysuckle is grown in a pot, in sandy soil, or near other plants or trees that are competing for soil nutrients. The addition of organic matter can also help retain moisture and improve soil aeration, both of which are important factors for flowering.
For best results, consider using a slow-release fertilizer like Miracle-Gro granules, so that the nutrients are available for longer without burning the honeysuckle’s roots. Also apply mulch around the base of the plant to guarantee an abundance of flowers in the next season.
5. Dry soil
Moist soil is a very important requirement if you want to succeed in growing a happily-flowering honeysuckle. As mentioned previously, these flowering vines and shrubs do best in consistently damp (but never watery) soil, just like in their native habitat.
However, several conditions can quickly turn the soil bone-dry. If your honeysuckle is moisture-deprived, it could be due to one of the following reasons:
- Using garden soil that is too stony or sandy. Loose soil structures do not hold water very well and might lead to excessive dryness, especially during the hotter seasons.
- Planting your honeysuckle near other plants or trees that compete for moisture.
- Exposing the soil to too much sunlight, the heat of which can quickly evaporate the soil’s moisture and dry out the plant’s roots. The stress caused to your plant by these conditions can hinder its flower production.
- Growing your honeysuckle in a pot. By saying this, it does not mean you cannot succeed in growing this plant in containers. Just keep in mind, though, that most pots are designed to be well-draining. This means that potted honeysuckles will have higher watering demands than those planted in the ground. Additionally, consider using a larger pot to accommodate more soil and thus more moisture for the roots.
6. Not fully established
If you have taken all the right steps to nurture your honeysuckle and still it has failed to bloom, it could be that your plant has not yet reached the flowering stage of its life.
Honeysuckles generally take about two to three years to become fully established. Once they reach maturity and all of their required growing conditions are met, only then will you witness their spectacular and prolific flowers.
Why are my honeysuckle’s flowers falling off?
We all love honeysuckle for its fragrant, tubular flowers, so it goes without saying that we do not want to lose these hard-earned blooms when they arrive!
There are two common reasons your honeysuckle flowers may be dropping – drought stress and pest infestation.
Drought stress can be a result of underwatering or using sandy soil. So, if you notice the flower buds falling off your honeysuckle, do check your watering habits as well as the type of soil your plant is growing in.
Too much sun exposure can also lead to increased transpiration in plants, causing their much-needed moisture to evaporate too quickly. If this is the case, you might need to consider relocating your plant to a cooler spot with filtered sunlight, particularly on hot summer days.
Pest infestation is another possible culprit behind your plant’s bud or flower loss. Insects like aphids and thrips feed on the plant’s leaves and petals until they become dry and disfigured. Eventually, the plant will lose its vigor, drop its flowers, and stop producing new leaves and buds.
Nobody wants to deal with pests – they are destructive not only for your honeysuckle, but for the entire garden. Thankfully, there are organic solutions available to help you deal with infestations, including neem oil and insecticidal soaps. As much as possible, avoid using harsh chemicals as these solutions can also harm the beneficial pollinators in your garden.
How to get honeysuckles to bloom
Honeysuckles can only produce abundant flowers when their ideal growing conditions have been met. With that in mind, it is helpful to understand your plant’s native habitat – a bit of research will go a long way toward caring for your beautiful perennial.
Here are some growing tips you can follow to ensure abundant flowers on your honeysuckle in the next blooming season:
- Fertilize your honeysuckle at least once a year, preferably in early spring or before new growth begins. There are many types of fertilizer you can use for this plant, so do some research, use your best judgment and follow the prescribed dosage. One option is an all-purpose fertilizer with a balanced NPK ratio, such as a 20-20-20 or 16-16-16.
- Do not let the soil become too dry before watering your plant again. Drought stress can hinder the flowering process, so make sure to keep your honeysuckle well-hydrated at all times. Make it a habit to check the soil regularly using your finger or a soil probe to know the best time to water your plant.
- Honeysuckles come in different varieties, each with its own unique characteristics and growth habits. Some cultivars might also bloom in a different season, or when certain growing conditions are met. With that in mind, make sure to choose one that is suited to your garden or decor purposes.
If your honeysuckle is not blooming, it probably has something to do with hard pruning, drought stress, or soil nutrient issues. If you are a beginner gardener, it may be a good idea to do some thorough research to get a better understanding of your plant’s basic care requirements. Learn the optimal growing conditions for your chosen honeysuckle variety, and when the time comes you will be rewarded with an abundance of beautiful blooms!
Image: istockphoto.com / Ildar Imashev