Pruning honeysuckle is important because it helps the plant stay healthy and prevents it from turning a section of the yard into an impassable wilderness. These plants grow quickly and can easily take over an area to the point that the plant is sometimes considered a weeds or an unwanted, invasive plant. Despite this, honeysuckle is a beautiful plant with many fragrant flowers and can be a pleasant addition to a yard or patio as long as it is properly pruned. Honeysuckle can be pruned at many different times of the year, but it should be left alone while it is flowering. By pruning honeysuckle each year, a gardener can remove unsightly branches and parts of the plant that have become ill, helping the plant to grow new branches and lots of beautiful flowers.
In order to properly prune a honeysuckle, the vines first need to be untangled. The plant does best when the upper parts of the branches are pruned and the lower parts are left alone. If the plant is pruned without first untangling the vines, it can easily be pruned too close to the ground. Pruning honeysuckle too close to the ground will not kill the plant because it is possible to prune it to only a few feet (a meter or so) above the ground. It does, however, decrease the number of blossoms the plant produces in the next growing season.
Not all of a honeysuckle needs to be cut back each year, but the plant should be kept tidy for the space it is in. Honeysuckle can be trained to climb up buildings or along trellises, and there is no need to cut it back completely every year. Any branches that are dead or show signs of disease should be cut off, however, so that the plant can use its energy to produce new, healthy growth rather than to repair damaged sections of vine.
The time of year should be taken into account when pruning honeysuckle. Dutch honeysuckle should be pruned after the plant has finished flowering for the year, usually in the summer. Japanese honeysuckle can be pruned as soon as the first new growth of spring begins to emerge. Honeysuckle can also be pruned in the winter, while the plant is dormant. It's never a good idea to prune the plant while it is flowering as this can cause the honeysuckle to divert its energy to the production of vines and leaves instead of flowers.