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Home & garden.

Updated: 3 May 2022

How to grow honeysuckle and best varieties

Honeysuckle is a classic cottage-garden plant that twines up a support. Discover our best honeysuckle varieties and tips for how to grow them.
Ceri Thomas

There are more types of honeysuckle than you might realise – some evergreen, some deciduous. They’re not all scented, and those that are, despite what you may read, are pollinated by moths rather than bees, so they save their strongest fragrance for evenings and early mornings. 

Which? Gardening magazine grew a range of popular varieties to see which would give us the best display.

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Key facts


POSITION Sun or partial shade

SOIL Reliably moist but well-drained soil

How to grow honeysuckle: month by month



Best honeysuckle varieties

Which? members can log in now to see the full results and which are our Best Buy varieties. If you’re not a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Full testing results for honeysuckle

Variety nameOverall ratingHeight x spread (cm)Flowering durationFlower impactFlower coverageScentVigourPest & disease resistanceBerries
300 x 80

60 x 90

240 x 60

200 x 110

250 x 150

230 x 100

170 x 70

TABLE NOTES The more stars the better. OVERALL RATING Based on: flower coverage (15%), flower duration (15%), flower impact (15%), pest and disease resistance (15%), scent (15%), vigour (15%) and berries (10%). Height x spread As measured in the second year of the trial. Eventual sizes would usually be larger. Vigour Assesses suitability/manageability for smaller gardens.

How we test honeysuckle

We bought three plants of 16 varieties of honeysuckle and planted them around large wooden obelisks at the Which? Gardening magazine trial garden in north London. The trial began in spring and ran for two growing seasons. Plants were assessed throughout. 

During the two years, only light pruning was needed and, as the requirements vary, it was done at the right time for each variety. The trial garden is open and sunny, and the soil well drained, so we mulched the ground and kept the plants well watered during spring and summer, and then watered during spells of hot, dry weather. 

When aphids and mildew appeared, all the plants were sprayed with a combined fungicide and pesticide. 

We assessed them for the duration and impact of flowers; whether they had attractive berries; their shape and how vigorously they grew how strong and how pleasant the scent was; how susceptible they were to common problems.

Caring for your plants


Plant in reliably moist but well-drained soil. Honeysuckle flowers best in sun, but they are woodland plants and might be healthier in partial shade. They prefer to have their roots in shade. Provide a sturdy support such as trellis or obelisk for them to twine around and climb up.

After planting, mulch with spent mushroom compost or garden compost to help keep soil moist and roots cool. This will help reduce the risk of powdery mildew.


Plant size can be kept in check by regular pruning. 

Some (Lonicera periclymenum) flower in early summer on sideshoots on growth made the previous year. Cut back the stems by about a third in late summer, when flowering has finished. 

Later flowering varieties, such as the Japanese honeysuckle (L. japonica) can be cut back as needed in spring by shortening any long shoots or tidying tangled growth. 

Overgrown plants of all varieties can be cut back hard to around 60cm in early spring and will soon regrow.

Common growing problems

Powdery mildew

This is a common problem, especially in dry soils. Infected leaves have a powdery white coating. Water during dry weather and thin out tangled growth to improve airflow around plants.

Read more about powdery mildew.


These sap-sucking insects attack shoot tips and buds in early summer, and can become a serious problem. If spotted early, it’s possible to squash aphids to prevent colonies increasing. Rose sprays that contain a fungicide and insecticide can help to control both aphids and powdery mildew.

Read more about aphids.