I have a coral honeysuckle I planted in the fall of 2015. Last year it grew ok and had some nice flowers, but it did not fill out as much as I had hoped. I have not done any pruning. As of now I do not notice any new growth on the old growth, although there are a couple of small shoots coming up from the base of the plant. Is this plant a "late-starter", or do I have something to worry about in regards to it's vitality?
Lonicera sempervirens, coral honeysuckle is native to the eastern US and is hardy to Zone 3. This is a deciduous climber to 45 feet and a fast grower. There are cultivars and they range in size.
They grow best in full sun and an annual mulching of compost. They do not need a lot of care beyond some pruning of old wood. Flowers are produced on new wood so prune vines in late winter or early spring to control growth. (in the future).
Scratch the stems with your fingernail and look for green tissue to see if viable.
This vine can take several years to get established and put out a nice flower display.
Thank you - does the "new wood" that results in flowers come off/out of the "old wood"?
New wood could come out of the ground. The newest wood is new growth produced this year and if the old wood is viable then that is where the new wood comes from. Plants in other areas are leafed out and flowering especially in the DC area.
I also just noticed what looks like tiny brown aphids, or maybe insect waste, on the ends of some of the branches. Any idea what this is and if it could be slowing the growth of my plant this year?
These could be aphids, but we would need a clearer photo in order to make a diagnosis. Can you please send a photo that shows the problem area more clearly?
Thank you for the additional photos. Yes, those are aphids. You can hose them off with a strong spray of water and/or apply an insecticidal soap, which will dry them out. Here is a link to additional information about aphids and how to manage them. http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/aphids-flowers. Typically, predatory insects (parasitic wasps) will control aphid populations naturally, later in the season.
And is this likely why my plant is not showing much growth so far this year?
The plant needs to establish a good root system for the first several years. Aphids can be a factor early in the season but will not kill the plant. Be patient, this vine will get bushier and reward you with a nice flower display. It may take a year or two.