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How To Grow Honeysuckle From Seed?

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Either edible or decorative species of honeysuckle are easier to propagate vegetatively. In case of cuttings or separation of shoots, all the characteristics of mother plants are preserved, which is especially important when cultivating varietal honeysuckle with improved characteristics. But despite all the advantages, honeysuckles are just as often grown from seed. The most economical and least labor-intensive method of seed multiplication of honeysuckle allows to get healthy and perfectly adapted to the conditions plants in large quantities.

How to grow honeysuckle from seed?
Honeysuckle seedlings

Description of honeysuckle

The representatives of the genus Honeysuckle (Lonicera) are deciduous and evergreen shrubs, among which both upright forms and climbing or creeping vines occur. All honeysuckles have simple, dark green, oval with a pointed edge, opposite leaves. Its snow-white, cream, pink, yellow or red flowers are very delicate and beautiful, and may be fragrant or poorly scented. They can be black, blue, and inked; ornamental species are also red or orange. But berries of honeysuckle are always juicy, sometimes compounded into copulas, ending with various kinds of their tops - with a "spout", pointed, flat or with an original roll. All honeysuckle berries have small seeds compared to the size of the fruit. Each berry contains from 4 to 18 seeds.

The main propagation methods of both ornamental and edible honeysuckle are vegetative. Honeysuckle trees are propagated by cuttings, green cuttings, separation of offspring, and by grafts. The seed method is considered less productive and more difficult, but this is not entirely true. Effort for reproduction of honeysuckle from seeds is minimal, this is the most economical way in all senses of reproduction of this bush.

Disadvantages of seed multiplication - inability to preserve qualities and characters of the mother plant - is actual mainly for edible species of honeysuckle, because it is first of all about taste and productivity. But for ornamental species, the seed method is fairly called the easiest and simplest. If the problem is to grow a rare type of honeysuckle, which cannot be bought as seedlings, to multiply ornamental species or to get a large number of plants, the seed method is an excellent alternative.

When multiplying from seeds the first harvest of honeysuckle must wait up to 5 years

Honeysuckle seeds alone and their choice for sowing

Raising seeds of edible honeysuckle varieties is considered problematic not for nothing. The descendants of one plant show a very big scattering of characters and qualities. In order to breed edible honeysuckle berries from seeds, one must choose the sweetest varieties, because it is impossible to avoid strong bitterness in ordinary varieties.

In independent cross-pollination, it is recommended to use at least three varieties, each of which has no tendency to exhibit bitterness. For fruit-bearing honeysuckle it is better to choose purchased seeds, the producers of which are specially engaged in selection and guarantee that from seeds you get at least a part of plants with the declared characteristics.

For propagation from seeds and sowing it is very important to choose ripe, even overripe fruits of honeysuckle. It is better to sort the berries from the resulting crop, leaving the largest and fleshiest ones. The seeds are usually extracted by crushing the fruit, rubbing them through a sieve or gauze, or rubbing them by hand. Further processing strategy may vary:

  1. Seeds can be cleaned by soaking the pulp with water. The pulp of the berries floats up in the water, but the heavy seeds always settle out. Thorough rinsing produces clean seeds ready for drying.
  2. Since seed germination is not affected by the remaining pulp, you can simply crush the berries on paper or napkins that will absorb all the moisture and carefully dry the remaining pulp and seeds, using them for sowing.
  3. If sowing is carried out after harvesting, it is possible not to carry out seed drying, using crushed berries.

Buy honeysuckle seeds can be both bagged and in the form of berries. In the latter case, the rules of selection are the same as in the case of independent seed collection. When buying ready-made seeds, you need to make sure that they are suitable for sowing, have full legal information and recommended agrotechnics, and carefully check the botanical name of the plant, species name and variety.

Self-picked honeysuckle seeds, to be sown the same year, are better kept in room conditions, not in the cool. The only thing to protect them from is light and hot temperatures. For next year's sowing, keep the seeds in a cool place, allowing them to stratify. Old seeds should be kept in temperatures between 2 and 5 degrees. If you buy honeysuckle seeds, follow the instructions on the seed package in choosing temperature and storage conditions.

The germination of up to 75% of honeysuckle seeds lasts for two years. At only four years of age, germination is half or more of that of fresh seeds. If seeds were stored in coolness, at 2 to 7 degrees, high germination of honeysuckle seeds does not lose up to 7 years.

How to grow honeysuckle from seed?
Seedlings of creeping honeysuckle grown from seeds. © teannurseries

Timing of seeds honeysuckle

Honeysuckle offers many options and different methods of seed propagation.

Seeds of honeysuckle can be sown:

  • spring, the following year after harvesting, in seedlings;
  • summer in soil or containers (if the fruit is harvested from honeysuckle of early maturing varieties and species);
  • winter into the soil.

Spring sowing in containers is considered preferable, as plants do not require protection for the first winter and additional sheltering, grow faster and reach decorativeness, meeting their first winter no longer fragile sprouts. But the main advantage is that small sprouts appearing very early in the soil often do not withstand competition with weeds and require very careful care, and the re-growing during the year in containers substantially simplifies the task of preserving fragile plants. From the point of view of fruiting, summer sowing is preferable, because then the plants will bring the first crop a year earlier.

Sowing honeysuckle under winter

Sow under winter sow the seeds mainly of Korolkova honeysuckle, which germinate better after a long stratification. But today this method is increasingly often recommended for other types of honeysuckle, because it is much easier than the traditional sowing in seedlings.

Sow honeysuckle under winter spend the end of October or early November, after the arrival of the first frosts. Sowing should not be too deep, but it is possible to scatter the seeds quite densely, because next year for the sprouts will still carry out picking. It is better to prepare the soil at the place of sowing at least a month in advance by adding organic and mineral fertilizers, carefully selecting all the trash and adjusting the composition for a loose and light structure.

You can sow the seeds not in seedbeds, but in large containers and boxes, which can be moved in spring to the greenhouse for an earlier "start". There is no need to cover for the winter in any variant of cultivation.

Winter sowing of honeysuckle in the spring, as soon as the soil thaws, sprout very amicably. Plants are allowed to grow until mid-summer and only in July, pick on seedbeds (transplant preferably sprouts height of not less than 10 cm). The seedlings can be moved to a permanent place only next year.

Sowing the seeds of early honeysuckle varieties after harvesting in late June-July

Sow the seeds of honeysuckle, harvested in the middle of summer, immediately after harvesting. It is better to sow the seeds not immediately in the soil, because preservation of plants in the heat of the heat can be a big problem, but in containers. Any summer seedlings will need winter protection, because plants will not have time to get strong enough before frosts anyway. Honeysuckle seeds should be sown preferably in large wooden boxes.

Sow honeysuckle seeds in loosened, leveled and well watered soil:

  1. Sow them rarely, leaving 2 to 10 cm between the seeds, in furrows or superficially, covering them with soil only slightly.
  2. In order to preserve and retain moisture in the heat of midsummer, to save young sprouts, containers or soil should be covered with film or glass. The cover should be removed as soon as the seedlings appear. Usually, when freshly harvested seeds are sown, sprouts appear after 20 days.
  3. Young sprouts are carefully cared for by maintaining stable humidity and not letting the soil dry out. Regular watering is carried out until the beginning of autumn, when the plants should form the third or fourth pair of leaves.
  4. The boxes for the winter are buried in the soil or left in protected, secluded places. But in any case the young seedlings need careful protection - a high layer of mulch or careful covering with lapnuts with additional snow sprinkling in winter.

The next season the covering is removed from plants gradually, guided by the weather and protecting young plants from severe frosts at least by a layer of mulch until the middle of April. Young plants are picked in May or June, transferring them to seedbeds for rearing. In the third year, they can be planted in a permanent place (if it is possible to provide more frequent watering, the picking can be carried out immediately in a permanent place). The care of the plants is standard, including watering, weeding, mulching.

How to grow honeysuckle from seed?
Sprouts of honeysuckle grown from seeds. © Olga Ovodova

Spring sowing of honeysuckle on sprouts

The option of sowing on sprouts is the only productive way of spring sowing of honeysuckle seeds, as seeds are small, germinate rather quickly, seedlings are very fragile and delicate. When sowing immediately into the soil, it is almost impossible to save the seedlings. Honeysuckle seedlings are sown in March or April.

For sowing in spring, fresh honeysuckle seeds collected last year do not need stratification. They have a short dormancy period, so if the seeds are not stored for more than 2 years, you can not worry about any additional measures. But for older seeds, it is advisable to keep them in the cold for around 1-3 months without freezing. Stratification at the temperature from 2 to 5 degrees accelerates the process of germination.

Presowing treatment by soaking in a weak solution of manganese for 24 hours is necessary for seeds of any type of honeysuckle, even the freshly harvested.

Soil and containers for sowing honeysuckle suit almost any type. A universal substrate or light garden soil with a high organic content is fine. You can also use a layered substrate consisting of humus, peat and sand in equal proportions. As for containers, small pots are better left for conventional sprouts: honeysuckle is sown in large wooden boxes or flower containers.

Sowing seeds into containers in spring is very simple:

  1. Containers are filled with soil and level the surface, taking care not to compact the soil.
  2. Seeds are spread on the surface of well-watered soil. Thick seeding is undesirable: for honeysuckle it is better to do without picking, so the seeds are placed at least a few centimeters apart (the optimal distance is about 10 cm).
  3. Fill the seeds with a thick layer of sand or a mixture of sand and substrate in height from 0,5 to 1 cm.
  4. Containers or boxes are covered with film or glass from above.

The conditions for germination of seeds must be carefully controlled. Honeysuckle seeds require stable heat - temperature above 20 degrees indoors, bright light. The moisture level of the soil should be kept constant, but it is necessary to water very carefully, not washing seeds out of the sand.

Sprouts of honeysuckle appear on average in a month after sowing. With stratification - even in 3 weeks.

The plants require standard care. Stable soil humidity without overwatering and good light allows plants to actively develop. Sprouting is carried out only in dense seeding, transplanting plants about 3 cm in height at a distance of 5-10 cm in large boxes. With this strategy for the summer containers with seedlings can be taken out into the open air, and young honeysuckle winter in the room at a temperature of 2 to 10 degrees Celsius. Plants are moved to gardens (not to the permanent place, but to seed-beds for additional cultivation during several years), disposing them with the distance of 15-25 cm between seedlings. It is better to protect plants from the bright sun on hot days and immediately after transplanting with additional shading.

How to grow honeysuckle from seed?
Honeysuckle seedling grown from seed. © nohoso

Planting honeysuckle in a permanent place

Honeysuckle grown from seed, like all honeysuckle in principle, are perfectly tolerant of transplanting. They are not planted in their permanent place before the second year, but if desired, the plants can be brought up to 3-7 years, and only then transferred to the place where honeysuckle was planned to use initially. To avoid mistakes, it is enough to pay attention to lighting and soil characteristics, prepare planting pits in advance.

For honeysuckle choose light, well-lit sites or scattered, light and uneven penumbra. The stronger the shade, the worse the honeysuckle blooms. Climbing species are more light-loving, forest species are more shade-tolerant. Although honeysuckles are considered shrubs and lianas that can grow in almost any soil, too dry and damp soil is best avoided. Honeysuckle trees are most decorative on drained, loose, nutritious soils with a pH of 7.5 to 8.5. It is better to apply organic and complete mineral fertilizers to the soil.

Autumn (August-September) planting is preferable for blue honeysuckle even in regions with harsh winters. For other ornamental and fruiting species, planting in spring, at the end of April, is preferable.

The recommended planting distance depends directly on how you use honeysuckle. In decorative groups or fruit garden, single cultivation to the neighboring plant leave a distance of 2.5 or 3 m. When planting in hedgerows distance is reduced to 1.5-2 m.

For honeysuckle planting holes dug to a depth and diameter of 25 cm to 50 cm depending on the age of the plant (the older the seedlings, the larger the planting hole). Before planting seedlings in a permanent place, it is necessary to lay a high layer of drainage on the bottom of the planting pits (drainage from gravel or broken bricks will do better for this shrub).

Plants are exposed in the planting pit on a small hill, so that the root neck, taking into account the shrinkage remained at soil level. The roots of the plant should be carefully straightened and evenly distributed, gently and gradually filling the voids with soil. Complete the planting of honeysuckle seedlings by abundant watering and obligatory mulching around the perimeter of the planting hole.

Care for young honeysuckle is not complicated. From the second year after planting in a permanent place, full mineral fertilizers are applied annually in the spring, and in the fall already from the year of planting in the soil incorporate wood ash. Before the beginning of active growth, it is better to protect plants from drought. Honeysuckle later enough 2-3 watering per season.

Another care is reduced to deep loosening of soil (up to 25 cm), mulching, pruning after the shedding of leaves or early spring before growth with removal of damaged, unproductive and old branches, constant crown renewal to 5 powerful trunks.

Even in the first year after planting in a permanent location, honeysuckle trees grown from seed do not need protection for the winter.

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