A dying honeysuckle is typically the result of too little moisture or nutrient-rich soil. If the soil is deficient in nutrients and too dry, the honeysuckle leaves will turn yellow and drop off, giving the plant a dying appearance. Honeysuckle demands continually moist, nutrient-rich soil.
The most typical causes of honeysuckle death are:
- Drought (honeysuckle requires continually damp soil) (honeysuckle requires consistently moist soil).
- Lack of fertilizer and insufficient soil nutrients (causes yellow leaves and leaf drop).
- inadequate sunlight (Honeysuckle prefers sun at the vines and shade at the roots).
- Fungal illness (Powdery mildew turns honeysuckle leaves grey with black dots).
Read on to learn what is causing your honeysuckle to die and what you can do to save it.
Honeysuckle Dying from Drought
Drought and dry soil at the honeysuckle’s roots are two of the most frequent causes of yellowing and leaf drop in honeysuckles.
Honeysuckles naturally thrive in woodlands and hedgerows in richly organic soil that contains a significant amount of decomposing leaves.
Decomposed leaves have a porous structure that permits extra water to flow out despite having an amazing ability to hold moisture.
For honeysuckles, which need continually moist soil and suffer if there is a brief drought, this offers the ideal balance of soil moisture.
Despite receiving a lot of rain, honeysuckles planted in gardens may experience drought because of the following factors:
- Inadequately spaced honeysuckle plants near a wall or fence. The honeysuckle may experience drought if it is planted too close to its supporting structure since the wall, fence, or other building may create a rain shadow, keeping the soil there a little drier than the rest of the garden soil.
- Because it is excessively stony or sandy, the soil does not hold moisture. In contrast to the honeysuckle’s optimal soil type, which is moisture retentive yet good draining in that it lets excess water to drain away from the roots so that the ground does not get waterlogged, which might cause root rot, sandy or stony soils are quickly drained.
- The honeysuckle’s base is exposed to the sun, which might cause the soil to become dry. In order to keep their roots cool and maintain moisture, honeysuckles prefer to have the base of their plants covered, while keeping the sun on their vines, which encourages blossoming.
Read my article on why your honeysuckle isn’t blossoming for more details and suggestions for flowering.
In order to recreate the natural circumstances in its original woodland habitat and lessen the chance of drought, which results in the yellow leaves and leaf drop, the honeysuckle should ideally be planted in soil that has been amended with plenty of organic matter to retain moisture.
If your honeysuckle is a young plant, you can temporarily remove it out of the ground while you cover the planting area with a thick layer of compost and leaf mold to strengthen it against drought.
The best course of action is to… if this is not possible because your honeysuckle is too old and established.
- In the spring and summer, give the honeysuckle regular watering. The honeysuckle should ideally receive a deep soak once a week to help reduce the risk of drought and to encourage the establishment of roots, which increases drought resistance.
- Add a mulch that retains moisture around the honeysuckle’s base. In the original woodland habitat of honeysuckles, leaf litter serves as a natural mulch and keeps the soil moist around the roots. Apply a 1-inch layer of mulch made of compost or leaf mold around the base of the honeysuckle to mimic the effect of natural leaf litter. This should aid in moisture retention, enhance soil structure, and add nutrients to the soil to aid in the recovery of your honeysuckle.
The soil’s ability to retain moisture is improved by applying mulch once or twice a year, ideally in the spring or summer, making your garden soil more conducive to the growth of honeysuckles.
The honeysuckle should grow back with frequent watering and mulch application.
The following year, the honeysuckle should grow more healthy green leaves and be in better condition to grow and produce blooms, even though the yellow leaves may still fall off.
While drought is probably the most frequent cause of yellow leaves and leaf loss in honeysuckles, other factors like lack of sun and a deficiency in soil minerals may also contribute to this.
Lack of Nutrients (Yellow Leaves and Leaf Drop)
Nutrient deficiency in the soil can occur for several causes.
- The roots of the honeysuckle can deplete the soil of nutrients if it has remained in the same spot of soil for a long time without receiving any additional nutrients from fertilizer or mulch.
- In comparison to honeysuckles growing on a trellis or fence, honeysuckles planted next to a wall have a less area for their roots to grow and acquire nutrients (because to the foundations of the wall).
- As woodland plants, honeysuckles benefit from the annual addition of nutrients to the soil by acting as a mulch made of leaf litter. Your honeysuckle may exhaust the nutrients in the soil and eventually die back if you do not mulch it.
- On rare occasions, I notice honeysuckles growing in pots and other containers. Pots and containers have a lower capacity for soil, which means a lower capacity for nutrients and moisture, which can result in yellow leaves and a dying-looking aspect on the honeysuckle.
The following steps are crucial for restoring honeysuckles that are in need of nutrients because the soil lacks them:
- Mulch at the base of your honeysuckle every year will mimic the effects of woods leaf litter by supplying nutrients and retaining moisture, improving the environment for your honeysuckle.
- For more nutrients, add a balanced fertilizer to the soil in the spring.
In the spring and possibly again in the summer, spread a 1-inch layer of compost or leaf mould around the base of your honeysuckle.
This should reduce the chance of drought and enhance the nutritional profile of the soil so that your honeysuckle has all it needs to flourish and produce blossoms.
Applying mulch regularly can make nutrient-deficient soils more akin to the soil found in a honeysuckle’s native habitat.
Your honeysuckle’s look can be enhanced with additional fertilizer, which is also necessary to help the plant recover.
Never use a nitrogen-based fertilizer; always use a balanced fertilizer.
I personally suggest a product like miracle-gro granulated fertilizer because it is simple to use and has the proper nutrients in the perfect amounts.
Additionally, this product makes sure that nutrients are distributed gradually, decreasing the possibility of issues brought on by using too much fertilizer (which can prevent honeysuckle form flowering).
Not Enough Sunlight
When the vines are in the sun and the roots are in the shadow, honeysuckles grow well. While full sun is not necessary for flowering, partial sun or strong dappled light is.
In order to have the energy to bloom, honeysuckle uses its climbing vines to locate sunlight.
In addition to hindering flowering, full shade can also result in leaf drop and a darkening of the leaves.
If the honeysuckle’s upper half has climbed such that it is in direct sunlight but only the lower half of the plant exhibits leaf drop and yellowing of the leaves, this may be the explanation.
The honeysuckle frequently only invests in the development of leaves that are in a position of sunlight, causing the plant to drop leaves from higher up the stem.
There is no immediate cause for concern for the remainder of the honeysuckle and it is doubtful that the plant is dying if the vines are healthy and in the light but just the lower half is losing leaves.
The honeysuckle is probably in good health, and the vines that are in the sun should flower. If required, you can put a shrub that likes shade (hydrangea or rhododendron) in front of the honeysuckle’s lower half to hide the scant growth.
In places of complete shade, you can either reduce the canopy of any overhanging branches for more light or move the honeysuckle to a position with more sunlight because they frequently do not thrive or flower well there.
Honeysuckle with Fungal Disease
Unfortunately, powdery mildew can affect honeysuckle. However, this does not necessarily indicate that your honeysuckle is dying; with the proper care, the honeysuckle can be rejuvenated. However, how quickly you get infected determines how well you recover.
The following are risk factors for powdery mildew on honeysuckle:
- regular stress from drought. The honeysuckle is less resistant to infection if it frequently faces dry soil or dehydration due to weather, a sandy soil profile, a lack of mulch, or routine watering.
- A surplus of fertilizer. Increased foliage growth that is more susceptible to powdery mildew might result from too much nitrogen being present in the soil as a result of frequent fertilizer application, fertilizer with a high nitrogen content, or runoff from lawn feed. Never use a nitrogen-based fertilizer; always use a balanced fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium (NPK).
- inadequate sunlight The main cause of powdery mildew infection susceptibility is typically not a lack of sun, but it is still a contributing component. For most honeysuckles to flower and remain healthy, the vines need some sun.
- higher humidity levels. Trim the surrounding vegetation and any unproductive wood on the honeysuckle to increase ventilation. Avoid watering from above and water near the base of the honeysuckle to avoid creating a humid microclimate.
- nutrient-deficient soil The honeysuckle is more susceptible to powdery mildew if the soil is sandy or if mulch or fertilizer have not been applied.
The most crucial stage in treating powdery mildew is to:
- With a clean set of pruners, remove any infected foliage.
- To avoid spreading the fungus spores to the honeysuckle’s generally healthy growth, clean the blades with a cloth dipped in disinfectant after each cut.
- To eradicate the fungus and stop it from spreading, gather up any contaminated leaves and burn them or throw them away in a trash can.
- Use a neem oil treatment (available from garden centers and online). Neem oil is a healthy fungicide for organic agriculture and is non-toxic. Typically, treating powdery mildew only requires a few spray sprays to the leaves, but always adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
With proper attention, watering on a regular basis, and treatment, honeysuckle can completely recover from powdery mildew.
Because powdery mildew can stress the honeysuckle and restrict nutrient availability, applying a balanced fertilizer can aid with recovery.
- Drought or a deficiency in soil nutrients are the two main causes of dying honeysuckle. The leaves of the honeysuckle become yellow and drop off in dry, nutrient-poor soil, and the vines wither and perish.
- Additionally, a lack of sunshine might result in leaf yellowing and leaf drop on the vines. The roots and vines of honeysuckle prefer the shade and the sun, respectively, for flowering.
- Powdery mildew is present on honeysuckle with grey or white leaves that have black dots. By consistently watering them, adding mulch, and applying fertilizer, honeysuckles can recover from powdery mildew. If you prune any damaged foliage and apply neem oil to the plant, the honeysuckle should regrow the next season.
- For moisture and nutrition, woodland plants like honeysuckle need soil rich in organic matter like leaf litter. Mulch leaf mold or compost around the honeysuckle’s base to mimic their native environment.
Should honeysuckle be cut back every year?
Pruning your plant a little each year is essential to keeping honeysuckle vines healthy and blossoming. Waiting until it becomes a dense, twisted, and impossible mess is a bad idea. The ideal time to prune is usually right after the summer blooms.
Should you cut honeysuckle back?
The honeysuckle shrubs ought to respond favorably to aggressive trimming back for renewal. Wait until late winter of the next year to prune them back before spring growth begins for optimal results. When dormant, many overgrown shrubs can be severely pruned to encourage new growth from the base.