What should I do to treat the black spots on my honeysuckle leaves?

Asked June 22, 2014, 10:49 PM EDT

We have a climbing honeysuckle now in its second summer that has climbed up an arch and about halfway over. But this spring it seemed to be sick. There are black spots on its leaves. They turn yellow and fall. So, instead of a lush honeysuckle, it is quite bare most of the way up from the ground. Should I use fertilizer? Which one? Spray?

Clackamas County Oregon

7 Responses

Please don’t fertilize a stressed plant because it only adds more stress.
In order to suggest a spray, we must first diagnose the problem beyond “black spots.” Sprays protect new growth; they don’t get rid of existing spots.

Honeysuckles commonly get various leaf diseases, drop their leaves, then grow more leaves. The problem is often the prevailing environmental conditions beyond your control, things such as humidity and prevailing temperatures. (Honeysuckle does best in hot, dry conditions.) Overhead watering makes things worse.

We can try to diagnose the specifics for your honeysuckle after you send me at least three images. Please include these views:
1. an overall view of the area
2. a mid-distance view of the affected plant
3. a close-up view

I look forward to receiving your images.

I'm sorry but the appropriate photos are on my smart phone. From there I sent them to my Email. The only way I know how to send them to you is to forward my Emails. And in this format I don't see how to do that.

Please email your images to clackmg@oregonstate.edu as I can respond when I am in that office on June 26.
In the subject line, please include “AaE Inquiry; Attention J. Natter” but without the quotes.
Also include your phone number.

The Master Gardeners forwarded your emails to me. After I looked at your images, I’m a bit puzzled. It appears the images are of two different plants, one adjacent to the house, another next to a green fence.

In any event, I don’t think either plant has a disease. Instead, I suspect the problem is a matter of several things:

- On both vines, multiple intertwined stems which are possibly choking off each other. It would be better to tie the stems to the support.
- The plant against the fence appears to be in a planter box which may be too small for such a vigorous vine. (Is it possible to plant it in the ground?)
- That same vine is sharing space with a number of weeds. (If the plant is to remain in the planter box, remove the weeds, then mulch the surface.
- Both plants have leaves with black on them which appear to be an early stage of the leaves with brown tips and edges. Tissue death such as that is a sign that the leaves are receiving insufficient water.

If you decide to move the vine to the ground, wait until it goes dormant. And consider renovating the vine by cutting it back to just a foot or two above the ground just before growth begins. You may want to repeat the renovation every now and then.

For the rest of this season, ensure the plant has sufficient water. As long as the root systems is limited by the planter box, you may need to water once or twice a week. (Stick a finger in the planting media to determine when to water.) And when you see a failing yellow leaf, remove it.

Resources for you:
- Honeysuckle http://rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=439
- Honeysuckle vine care http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/vines/honeysuckle/honeysuckle-vine-care.htm
- Mistakes to avoid http://www.doityourself.com/stry/common-mistakes-to-avoid-when-growing-honeysuckle-vine#.U6uuiLGmXjI

Thanks for your reply and for the three references which I have printed out to use. Sorry to confuse you with two different honeysuckle plants. You mention stems wrapping around themselves so I took a picture of the large, ground planted Hall Honeysuckle. A year ago this spring, this newly planted honeysuckle really took off. It even looked healthy during winter. This spring, however, I don't think it got watered until I noticed how bad it looked. To give up on this honeysuckle and cut all those stems away from the hog panel will surely be alot of work. Many of the growth tips look to be yellowing but some look good. Any more advice? And I will consult your references.
The two honeysuckles in the planter were planted this spring in composted horse manure and I am keeping them watered. My son in law made the planter for me so I probably can't change things short of maybe putting these two honeysuckles someplace else, in the ground, and putting something else in the planter.
Thanks! I'm Emailing 3 more photos of the large, ground planted Hall Honeysuckle.

The recent colder than usual winter may have played a role in damaging your honeysuckles. And if they did run short of water this spring, that complicated the matter by affecting the as yet, minimally developed root systems.

As for the honeysuckle in the long planter, I thought perhaps you were trying to develop a screen of greenery. If so, is it possible to transplant one of the several vines in the planter to the ground just beyond the far end of the planter? That location would provide a much larger area for the roots, thus the likelihood of a vigorous vine which has an opportunity to show off its best.

Honeysuckle thrives with heat. Our recent continuing cool weather may also have put the vines at a disadvantage. They may perk up on their own if summer ever arrives!

Thanks so much for spending a good deal of your time on my honeysuckles. I'm going to keep all watered and go with your optimistic view - they may perk up if and when summer comes. Unfortunately, the planter is on concrete. Down a couple of feet is a narrow strip of dirt and I'll get a couple more honeysuckles to put in there and add to the screen as you suggest. We downsized from acreage and animals to a house in a subdivision - kind of an adjustment!