Home Gardening Blog

Curse of the Bush Honeysuckles!

posted on
Curse of the Bush Honeysuckles!

All around the St. Louis area one will see bush honeysuckles in full flower now. They are growing in yards, along streets and roads, and throughout natural areas. One would have thought that the drought of last summer would have knocked them back, but it didn’t. They are as lush and green as ever. I guess that is part of the reason why they top the list of alien, invasive plants in our area. They are spread primarily by birds eating the red berries, which mature later in the year. The seeds sprout and grow in full sun as well as shady locations. They are so aggressive that native plants can not compete and are shaded out. One of the best times to see just how much bush honeysuckle is around is in October when the leaves of native plants in the forest have dropped; the bush honeysuckles will still be green and growing.

There are three main species of bush honeysuckles that are invasive in Missouri and Illinois:  Lonicera maackii (found both in Missouri and Illinois) and  Lonicera morrowii and Lonicera tatarica (both currently found only in Illinois but not in the immediate St. Louis area.) One hybrid, Lonicera ×bella, is uncommonly found in Missouri. These plants should not be confused with another group of plants that also go by the common name of “bush honeysuckle”, the genus Diervilla, which are native to southeastern U.S. They, in fact, are good plants for tough locations and are not invasive.

The most common question we receive about the invasive bush honeysuckles is “How to I get rid of it?” There are several good sources of control information on the web. Our information page, “Bush Honeysuckle Control”, has links that will take to these excellent resources. We have also included a list of suitable plants that can be used as alternatives to replace invasive bush honeysuckles.

Another plant that is showing very invasive qualities is ‘Bradford’ and the other Callery pears. Gardeners love the tight, pyramidal shape of the tree and the lovely early spring flowers but they come with a price. When only Bradford was planted the tree did not set seed but now with other cultivars being planted, cross-pollination is occurring and seed is being produced. Birds spread the seeds and trees are coming up all over the area, most worrying in natural areas where it also crowds out native plants. Additionally, the Callery pears are weak-wooded trees that have a short life in the home landscape before they split and become disfigured, necessitating removal. You can read more about the growing concern of this tree in our information page, “Bradford and Callery Pear Control”. The City of Columbia, Missouri has produced some excellent information on this topic. It is linked too on our information page, which also provided an extensive list of alternative trees to plant. Click on a plant name in the list to go to our Plant Finder page for more information.

Please forward a link to this information to your friends and fellow gardeners. Being aware of the problem is the first step in getting it under control.

| Categories: Spring | Tags: honeysuckle, bradford pear, weeds, invasive plants | View Count: (25712) | Return
Email Updates

Receive home gardening blog updates by email! 

Sign up now

Search the blog: