Honeysuckle Gone Woody (Reasons And Solutions)

Honeysuckle is one of the most beloved garden plants across the world and it’s not hard to understand why.

They can grow both as vines and shrubs, providing a lovely informal look for the garden and perfectly complementing other plants, such as roses.

They grow rather quickly and add to the appeal of the garden both with their profusion of flowers and distinctive, lemony fragrance.

Their strong scent is also a magnet for wildlife, attracting bees and butterflies and helping the whole garden flourish.

Still, as with all garden plants, there are some issues you may face when growing honeysuckle that can ruin their beautiful appearance, especially if you fail to take proper care of them.

One of the most common issues you may notice is honeysuckle gone woody.

Below, I’ll explain why this happens and what you can do to prevent and manage this problem.

So, let’s dive in!

Honeysuckle Gone Woody, What To Do?

You most likely grow and enjoy your honeysuckle because of its green flowing vine, which adds vibrancy and brightens up your garden.

However, at times you may notice that, instead of this gentle vine, your honeysuckle has developed thick, almost tree-like stems, or gone woody.

When this happens, the honeysuckle will continue to grow as a thick vine, with leaves often falling off the woody parts.

There are several reasons why this may happen.

Sometimes, it’s just an inevitable part of the process of your plant growing old.

However, honeysuckle can also become woody as a result of improper care and pruning or pest infestation.

Whatever the reason, you should learn how to deal with it and take action to restore honeysuckle to its natural beauty.

Why Does the Honeysuckle Go Woody?

Woody Honeysuckle.

Old Growth

Honeysuckle is known to grow very quickly and vigorously. While this may be convenient as you can get the full-grown plant in a shorter period of time, it also causes some issues.

As they grow very rapidly, the upper portions of the plant can overshadow the old growth at the bottom, closer to the ground.

Plus, the plant will redirect most of the useful nutrients to the new growth, while the older part of the honeysuckle is left dormant.

This causes the lower portion of the honeysuckle to become woody, and those branches and twigs may eventually defoliate and die.

The good news is that there are ways to revive a woody Honeysuckle and bring it back to its full glory.

Of course, it’s always best to act preemptively and apply good cultural techniques to ensure your honeysuckle enjoys healthy and unimpeded growth.

What to Do?

Proper pruning is the best method to both prevent honeysuckle from going woody and react when it already has happened.

In general, light pruning is recommended throughout the year, as the vigorous growth of the honeysuckle allows it to survive pruning at almost any season.

However, when you allow honeysuckle to overgrow and become woody, it will require some major and more aggressive pruning work.

In these cases, it’s best to hold off until the plant is in the dormant state, usually during the winter.

Woody honeysuckle will require that you cut the entire top portion of the plane, leaving only around 12 inches above the ground.

Don’t worry if you think that this is too drastic, as the honeysuckle will bounce back and grow out the following spring.

However, you will have to wait for the second spring after the hard pruning for the honeysuckle to bloom again.


Aphids on a plant stalk.

Due to its rich colors and fragrance, honeysuckle attracts a lot of insects. Some are useful, such as bees and butterflies, while others may harm your plant.

The most common pests attacking the honeysuckle are aphids.

They feast on the sap found inside the plane and, as a result, can make your honeysuckle go woody.

Plus, their activity may cause the leaves to lose their color and curl, stunting the growth of the entire plant at the same time.

To identify the aphids as the potential culprits for your honeysuckle going woody, look for the presence of honeydew.

It’s the sugary liquid left behind by the aphids as they feed on sap. Besides aphids, other pests to worry about are scale insects and caterpillars.

Both of these pests will leave a trail of discolored and deformed leaves, eventually causing defoliation and causing the branches or even the entire plant to die.

What to Do?

The key to dealing with pests attacking your honeysuckle is regular monitoring,

The sooner you discover the pest infestation, the easier it will be to deal with, as you will have to handle fewer insects.

Plus, it will minimize the amount of potential damage and prevent your honeysuckle from going woody.

If the infestation has already reached a more serious level, your reaction will have to be more aggressive. The easiest way to get rid of these pests is by using a strong pesticide.

However, many gardeners look to avoid this option due to the high toxicity of many pesticides.

Instead, they go for more natural options, such as horticultural oils.

These oils, made of petroleum or vegetable oils, don’t contain any harmful ingredients and will allow you to control pest infestation without toxicity.

You can also introduce predatory insects that feed on these pests, such as ladybugs or wasps.


You’re probably growing your honeysuckle for its beautiful looks, gorgeous flowers, and characteristic fragrance.

However, to help the plant maintain all these qualities, you’ll have to properly care for it and protect it, so it doesn’t get woody and sick.

As honeysuckle is a very fast-growing plant, it’s important to regularly maintain it and carefully monitor for any signs of weakness.

The most important task is regular light pruning, so the top portion of the plant doesn’t suffocate and takes all the nutrients away from the bottom of your honeysuckle.

This is also the most common cause of why honeysuckle may go woody.

In addition, inspect the plant periodically to check for any signs of pest infestation.

Remember that regular maintenance and monitoring will save you a lot of trouble and prevent more serious issues.

Melissa Johnson
Melissa Johnson

Hello, I'm Melissa, owner and author of this website. I hope my article was able to help answer your questions. If you want to learn more about me, click the home icon above.

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