Tom's Blog

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Honeysuckle time

Honeysuckle is one of our more annoying invasive shrubs. However, it is one of the first shrubs to green up in the spring, thus making it easy to spot. Thus, now is a good time (if you have all your burns done!) to seek it out and eradicate it.

Honeysuckle is a multi-stemmed shrub with a fairly shallow root system. In contrast to many other shrubs, it does not form rhizomes. Thus, there is no connection between one shrub and the next. However, every stem that is viable must be dealt with, and larger shrubs often have 15-20 stems.

April 23: honeysuckle green on a hillside

There are two ways of eradicating honeysuckle now:

  • Basal bark treatment with Garlon 4 in oil
  • Cut and treat with either glyphosate or Garlon in water
With either procedure, it is essential to add a dye to the herbicide mixture.

With the cut and treat method, you end up with a lot of biomass that must be stacked and eventually burned. With basal bark, you just leave the plant intact and watch it die. Eventually, the dead stems will dissipate, or burn up during next year's burn. 

For cutting a small infestation, hand loppers can be used, but for large infestations, a motorized brush cutter is preferable, provided there are enough crew members to follow the brush cutter and treat all the cut stems. (A skilled brush cutter can keep three or four people busy treating.

With either technique, it is essential that every stem be treated with herbicide, otherwise the plant will regenerate from the untreated stem(s).

When using loppers with the cut and treat method, make certain that every stem is treated by counting the stems as you cut them and then count again as you treat with herbicide. (The dye will tell you that you have not missed a stem.)

One advantage of the basal bark technique is that if you come across another invasive shrub, such as blackberry or sumac, you can treat that as you go. 


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