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Climbing plants are used to cover arches, obelisks, pergolas, fences and buildings. They can also be used to cover up unsightly features and masonry. True climbers take up little ground space and are perfect for small gardens. Wall shrubs, on the other hand, require more ground space.

A lot of climbers have the natural tendency to climb, and won’t need supports or to be tied-in. Wall shrubs, however, don’t climb naturally but they can be trained to do so. If left untrained, wall shrubs will bush outwards and grow like normal shrubs.

Planting and Conditions

Climbers can be planted at any time of year as long as the ground is not frozen or waterlogged. Autumn is the best time for planting deciduous climbers because the soil is warm enough to encourage some growth before winter comes. This will help the climber establish quickly so that the plant will be able to withstand dry, hot weather during the following summer.

Evergreen climbers can also be planted in the autumn, but it is better to plant them in the spring if your garden is exposed. This allows them to become established before the cold weather comes.

Vulnerable climbers can be protected over the winter months by covering them in a layer of insulation, such as a garden fleece.

To guarantee success, climbers should be planted somewhere there is suitable support. If it is able to climb without supports, then the wall or fence that it is climbing against should be in good condition. If you are planting a climber against a wall or fence, make sure you leave around 30 – 50cm from the wall to avoid the dry soil that is characteristic of these areas.

Climbers should be planted at the same depth as the pot. Water the plant thoroughly after planting, especially in the first few years and during bad weather. Plants against walls may not receive as much rainfall as the plants in the rest of the garden.

The type of soil that you will need will vary from climber to climber. Clematis, for example, tend to prefer soil that is moist, but well-drained. Hardiness will also vary from climber to climber, but tender plants should not be planted until the spring, and they should not be planted in an exposed area. Hardy climbers include ivy and Russian vine. Some varieties of clematis are hardier than others.

Aftercare and Pruning

Regular pruning will keep your climbers and wall shrubs tidy and full of flowers. Some climbers do have particular requirements. If a climber is left unpruned, renovation of the plant may be necessary.

Climbers should be watered well during dry spells. In the spring months, application of a fertiliser that is high in potassium should be used to feed the plant. Mulch it with organic matter, but leave at least 10cm free of mulch around the bark so that it doesn’t rot.

Potential Issues

Climbers and wall shrubs can suffer from diseases and pest problems. These include powdery mildew, aphids, scale insects, root rot and root rust, mealybugs.

These can be treated with a variety of sprays and pesticides or, if you’d rather not use them, simple removal of effected parts of the plant. Sometimes biological controls such as parasitic wasps and ladybirds can help in the fight against mealybugs.

Lonicera periclymenum

This week we are taking a peek into the world of Lonicera, commonly known as honeysuckle. There are many different types of honeysuckle, though the majority of species grown in gardens are climbing shrubs. If you’re curious about the name ‘honeysuckle’ it actually refers to delicious nectar which can be ‘sucked’ from the flowers, whereas the botanical name ‘Lonicera‘ is named after the German botanist Adam Lonitzer.


The cultivation requirements for Lonicera are very dependant on the type you are growing, whether that be a climber or a shrub. Climbing Lonicera enjoy humus-rich, fertile soil which is moist but well-drained. They will flower best with the top growth exposed to sunlight but they will also tolerate partial shade. Shrubby Lonicera are content in full sun or partial shade in any soil which is well-drained. Applying an organic mulch around the base can help reduce water stress in the warmer months of the year. This can be garden compost or well-rotted manure. Application of a seaweed feed or one of your own homemade nettle or comfrey liquid feeds will promote growth and flowering.


There are roughly 180 species of honeysuckle identified worldwide, with more varieties being cultivated by humans. Below is a small selection of the different varieties of honeysuckle available for growing in your garden.

Lonicera periclymenum (European Honeysuckle)

Lonicera periclymenum ‘ Serotina’ – RHS

Features: This variety of Lonicera provides fragrant, deep red-purple flowers with creamy-yellow colour inside. These are accompanied by deciduous, lush, dark-green oval leaves. After pollination red berries can provide a feast for the eyes and the birds in your garden.

Pruning: Once flowering has ended this species should be pruned back by one-third in late summer.

Lonicera japonica (Japanese Honeysuckle)

Lonicera japonica ‘Mint Crisp’ – RHS

Features: ‘Mint Crisp’ is a cultivar that provides not only fragrant, white and pale gold flowers for bees and butterflies to enjoy, but also wonderful marbled foliage with light and dark green makings. It’s semi-evergreen too, so depending on where you live you can expect to enjoy the wonderful foliage for most of the year.

Pruning: This species of honeysuckle does not require regular pruning, however you can manage its growth by pruning overlong shoots in spring. Be sure to also remove weak or damaged stems and reduce congestion of shoots.

Lonicera sempervirens (Trumpet Honeysuckle)

Lonicera sempervirens – RHS

Features: Another lovely addition to the garden is this gorgeous Lonicera sempervirens. Its cheerful flowers with an orange-red exterior and yellow interior provide warm, summer colours accompanied by pairs of attractive, evergreen, blue-green leaves joined at the base beneath the floral display. Red berries follow pollination, providing food for the birds to enjoy.

Pruning: Much like L.periclymenum, this species should be pruned back by one-third immediately after flowering in late summer.

Wildlife Gardening

With its delicious nectar and berries to follow, Lonicera is a great plant for the wildlife garden. The nectar provides food for bumblebees, butterflies and moths while the berries provide food for bullfinches, warblers and thrushes. If L.periclymenum is pruned back hard, it also encourages the plant to thicken which creates an ideal nest and roost site for birds.

So whether it be for its sheer beauty or for the abundance of food it provides for insects and birds. Why not add a honeysuckle to your garden this year.

Wildlife & Eco Gardens can help you create a vibrant wildlife garden for you and your family to enjoy all year round. Contact us for more information.

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Lonicera japonica ‘Mint Crisp’ (Honeysuckle ‘Mint Crisp’)

Botanical name

Lonicera japonica ‘Mint Crisp’

Other names

Honeysuckle ‘Mint Crisp’


Lonicera Lonicera

Variety or Cultivar

‘Mint Crisp’ _ ‘Mint Crisp’ is a semi-evergreen climbing shrub with cream and green speckled, ovate leaves that are pink tinged in winter. From mid-summer to mid-autumn, it bears fragrant, white flowers that fade to yellow.


Semi evergreen


Flowers have a strong perfume.



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Yellow, White in Summer; Yellow, White in Autumn

How to care

Watch out for

Specific pests

Aphids , Thrips

Specific diseases

Powdery mildew

General care

Propagation methods

Layering, Semi-hardwood cuttings, Softwood cuttings

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Where to grow

Lonicera japonica ‘Mint Crisp’ (Honeysuckle ‘Mint Crisp’) will reach a height of 3.5m and a spread of 1.5m after 5-10 years.

Suggested uses

Coastal, Cottage/Informal, Wallside and trellises

Plant in full sun or partial shade in any moist but well-drained soil.

Soil type

Chalky, Clay, Loamy, Sandy (will tolerate most soil types)

Soil drainage

Moist but well-drained, Well-drained

Soil pH

Acid, Alkaline, Neutral


Partial Shade, Full Sun


North, South, East, West


Exposed, Sheltered

UK hardiness Note: We are working to update our ratings. Thanks for your patience.

Hardy (H4)

USDA zones

Zone 10, Zone 9, Zone 8, Zone 7

Defra’s Risk register #1

Plant name

Lonicera japonica ‘Mint Crisp’ (Honeysuckle ‘Mint Crisp’)

Common pest name

European cherry fruit fly

Scientific pest name

Rhagoletis cerasi



Current status in UK


Likelihood to spread to UK (1 is very low – 5 is very high)

Impact (1 is very low – 5 is very high)

General biosecurity comments

Fruit fly pest of cherry and honeysuckle; widely distributed in Europe and also present in North America and Asia. No evidence of establishment in the UK to date despite repeated interceptions; but honeysuckle and cherry growers may wish to be aware and monitor for its presence.

About this section

Our plants are under greater threat than ever before. There is increasing movement of plants and other material traded from an increasing variety of sources. This increases the chances of exotic pests arriving with imported goods and travellers, as well as by natural means. Shoot is working with Defra to help members to do their part in preventing the introduction and spread of invasive risks.

Traveling or importing plants? Please read “Don’t risk it” advice here

Suspected outbreak?

Date updated: 7th March 2019 For more information visit:

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