Watch out for invasive honeysuckle

Willie Nelson and Louis Armstrong made it famous in song.

“Flowers drop and sigh … You’re much sweeter … Honeysuckle rose.”

With 200 species of honeysuckle, finding them around the countryside should not be too difficult. The bush honeysuckle are deciduous shrubs with long arching branches that usually grow 6 to 20 feet.

“I love honeysuckle, but it’s very invasive,” said Master Gardener Nancy Jenkins, 62, of Marietta. “Be careful where you plant it, it acclimates. Either you have to bury down 6 inches or plant it in pots. It’s very pretty, and I love the smell of it in the spring.”

For a nature lover, honeysuckle is a magnet for humming birds, bumble bees and fruit-eating birds.

“You will either like them or dislike them,” said Joan Fontaine, a 69-year-old Belpre resident and Master Gardener.

The flowers have all gone, taking the colors with them, but the vines will remain through the remainder of the summer and into the fall, Fontaine said.

However, Fontaine said the honeysuckle is not as annoying as other plants such as multiflora rose, which seems to anger more people when it appears on their property.

Invasive plants can be found in forested areas across the state. Those plants also affect the health of the trees.

From multiflora rose to Ailanthus (or tree-of-heaven) to kudzu, the list of non-native invasive plants seems to be ever-growing.

“(Honeysuckle is) kind of like a vine,” Greenleaf Landscaping employee Hannah Lang, 18. “If it has area to cover, it will in the woods. You can see it going up a tree.”

Several methods are available to rid a property of honeysuckle.

Lang suggested a product that kills the plant and sterilizes the soil for a year.

A more active approach, Fontaine said she learned years ago to soak the soil in the area of ground where the honeysuckle needs to be removed and use pruning shears at a 45-degree angle and chop them up, even the roots.

Jenkins said she prefers to mow it down as close to the ground as possible and cover it with a weed-preventing cloth.

Although the plant can spoil someone’s yard or cause some blood, sweat and tears, honeysuckle can be used in more joyful occasions, Fontaine said.

Some people like eating the flower or making tea or sorbet out of it. It can also be added to frosted cakes because it is edible.