Question From: J. McLaughlin - Hamilton, Ohio, United States
Q: Hi Nancy My main problem is with a Honeysuckle vine that we have tried to grow for several years. (Variety unknown) My wife has given up on it, so I thought I would take a turn. From other posts on your site, I'm going to say I'm pretty sure it at least has powdery mildew. The plant is approximately eight feet tall, grown on a trellis attached to the west side of a fence that runs north/south. It has very little leaf growth on the lower 2/3 of the plant. The upper leaf growth from my vantage point out the window shows a lot of white from this distance, but those upper leaves, as well as the lower ones, also have mottled brown and yellow spots all over them. Some of the leaves have holes in them and others appear to have been eaten along the edges. I have looked for aphids and don't see any. I don't think the plant is healthy enough to attract them. There is also an abundance of dead branches throughout that I have thought about removing, but that would be a monumental undertaking, and in order to not damage any live growth, I don't know where to start. Is there anything that can be done for it yet this year, so that we may eventually see some blooming? Is it recommended to cut the plant back to ground level this fall and start over again next year?
Funny thing about bugs Jim, they are attracted to sick plants. I suggest you spray the leaves with a product called AzaMax. Made from Azadiractin, it will take care of bug issues and may also help with the powdery mildew. It's certified organic and OMRI listed. Be sure to hit the undersides of the leaves. But let's look at why your Honeysuckle sucks. (Sorry about the bad pun). Sounds like it may be suffering from lack of water. I would mulch the area around the base with a 3 inch layer of good organic mulch such as bark chips. Water it semi weekly with a couple gallons of water. In late fall fertilize it with a slow release organic fertilizer such as Plant Tone. In late March cut it back to 4 inch above the ground. I'm a big fan of Neptune's Harvest Fish and Kelp Fertlizer - use it as a soil drench a couple of times a season, but not after August 15. Good Luck Nancy and Happy Yardening.