On our Eastern Shore farm, we have lots of naturalized areas where interesting things pop up. A combination of our own seedings, wild growth, and plantings from previous farmers gives us a diverse ecosystem. From old fruit trees to our figs and sunflowers, the land has been altered many times by human hands. Native plants show up on their own (and with help from us), along with species that have naturalized in the area. Invasive honeysuckle is one of these plants: it shows up with the help of birds and winds its way through trees and brush. Thankfully, it doesn’t spread around the farm very well, so we’re able to enjoy the blossoms without worrying about it getting out of hand.
Invasive Honeysuckle on the Shore
Japanese honeysuckle is frankly a weed-a pretty one, but a weed none the less. It’s invasive and aggressive, although many pollinators and birds enjoy the flowers. Hummingbirds and butterflies are big fans of the plant, and songbirds feast on the berries come the fall. To boot, the fragrance is intoxicating and screams summer…so we’ll put up with the plants otherwise bad habits. Planting native honeysuckle gives you the beautiful perfume without a need to worry about how much damage the plants will cause.
Our farm has soil that leans on the heavier side-this makes it difficult for non native honeysuckles to spread. The maintenance of the fields also helps to limit how far the plants can move, thanks to regular mowings. To top it off, cold winters limit how far the plants can grow.
This mowing is a typical control method for slowing invasive honeysuckle, although it isn’t always that effective. Large plants will resprout weeks later and need more aggressive treatments. We’re lucky to only have a few plants on the farm, with regular treatments we will be able to keep them under control.
In other areas of the country, the plants grow unchecked, and burnings and chemical treatments are used in conjunction with mowings. In warmer areas, especially the south and lower mid west, herbicides are necessary to stop the growth of the plants.