Climbing Honeysuckle Vine

Credit: Flickr / Maynard Hogg

Q: My climbing honeysuckle vine is about four years old. It has about three very long stems (over 12′) and produces only a few flowers (because is doesn’t get much sun).

My question is: Should I cut it down to ground level in late fall or early spring? 

It has never been pruned. I am in Zone 4b. —Lynn Crête

Here’s an excerpt from Christine Allen’s excellent book, Growing Up: A Gardener’s Guide to Climbing Plants for the Pacific Northwest:

“To prevent honeysuckle from becoming bare around the base, prune a couple of stems back hard in late fall or before buds break in spring. If necessary, all stems can be cut back this way to rejuvenate an ancient vine. Otherwise no pruning is necessary unless the vine is outgrowing its allotted space. In fact, the thick, concealing growth offers excellent habitat for small birds which also feed on the berries that appear in autumn. Hummingbirds are particularly attracted to the long, narrow flowers, as are hawk moths, which in turn provide food for bats.