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Dealing with Bush Honeysuckle

 
D. Logan
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Location: Soutwest Ohio
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Since we have an expert on the subject of the subject of plants often considered invasive, I thought this might be the perfect time to start getting inputs into a local problem plant. There are very few plants that I consider a real problem. Most of the time they can be readily managed with the right forethought. Even the infamous Kudzu can be controlled with a rotation of goats. Bush Honeysuckle is one of the ones I see as a major problem.

It is a strong survivor among the plant world, being terribly difficult to kill off once it has a chance to take root. Birds love the bright red berries and spread it heavily anywhere a single bush can get established. It puts on leaves faster than anything else in the area and drops them later than anything else. It can grow several feet in a single season, eventually becoming a sprawling bush of 15 or more feet. Almost all of the light is blocked below it once fully established, so that it eventually kills out all ground cover and prevents new trees from getting started. Over the course of years, it eliminates every ounce of diversity in the areas where it has gotten thick.

Add to this that no animal or insect acts as a predator to it and there seems to be no way of stopping or controlling it. At best, we lop it off low to the ground and repeat that cycle every year for the rest of our lives. Even salting the earth wouldn't assure it is dead, though I am unwilling to do that sort of thing. I would love to hear ideas of how in the world to control this plant so that other things have a chance to thrive in the same environment that it has taken root. Cutting down hundreds of bushes every year in even a small wooded acreage seems to be a terrible waste of energy if there might be another way.


A thin section of established plants. They grow much denser than this in my area and with way more cover.


Notice the lack of just about anything growing under them that isn't another honeysuckle.


Sweet smelling and very attractive, they make good plants for bees and a tasty drop of nectar for kids. One of the two reasons they were brought into the area originally.


The other reason they were brought into the area. Birds go crazy for these bright berries, so the Oxford Audubon Society thought they were the greatest thing since sliced bread.
 
Travis Johnson
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My forester recommends chemicals because as you found out, cutting it does not really work. Myself, I am not into spraying so instead I use my bulldozer to uproot it whenever I find it. I am on a pretty aggressive campaign now to eradicate what little I do have...while its a little problem that is. For me, smooth bedstraw is a far worse enemy.
 
alex Keenan
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If small there are tools to pry the roots out. Like a giant leveraged weed puller.
If it is big you are digging it out.
I you are limited in what you can do physically, you are cutting it to the ground and covering it with a tarp.
Here is something I found.
I keep a plot of giant ragweed going for chicken feed.
bush honeysuckle does not grow near my ragweed.
Maybe you could cut and plant something it does not like in that area.
 
Travis Johnson
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I was thinking about this last night and I thought of a possible solution. It is certainly DIY and does not require big equipment, but the thought process was, what if the process of cutting the honey suckle was sped up. As I said I really dislike the idea of using chemicals to eradicate it, though as a certified tree farm, I am required too.

So I thought of this nifty rig. Purchased or made by yourself it would speed things up. I plan to attach one to my bulldozer, though it could be attached to a tractor, skid steer or ATV (DR. version anyway).


 
Tao Orion
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That stand of bush honeysuckle looks amazing, and also would make great forage for goats! They would take even the thickest patch down over the course of a couple years, and you could then use pigs to root it out if needed. As an animal steward myself, when I see plants growing like that (and I also have a desire to move them along), I consider 'using biological resources' first - turn them into milk, meat, manure, wool, etc.
 
Bonnie Johnson
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Ah so that is the name of that bush. My goats absolutely love this stuff. They will stand on their hind legs and walk the bush down so they can get at the leaves to eat them. I rotate my goats so they don't over eat this bush
as I consider it good goat fodder. If you leave the goats in an area with this bush and don't rotate them, they will kill it off often in one season. That is why there is none of the bush honey suckle growing in my winter goat pasture.
There isn't any multiflora roses or black berries in that pasture either. My husband keeps wanting to bush hog my rotational pastures, but I won't let him because I don't want the multiflora rose, bush honeysuckle, blackberry vines
and other bushes to be killed. I need them there for the goats to eat on a rotational basis. When I refenced our property and sectioned it into rotational grazing areas, I worked very hard to not kill everything in the fence rows as
I consider this prime goat feeding. I graze the horses and cows on the pasture right after the goats. The goats knock back the brush a bit, then the horses and cows get the grass. Moveable chicken pens and moveable rabbit
pens are going out this spring to help fertilize some areas that things aren't growing as well in.

good luck with it. If you can't use goats to control this bush honey suckle, well I have found that it actually pulls out of the ground pretty easy by hand. I have had to remove some of it so that I can run fence lines. Or I will use
my pruners or my stilh brush cutter or my rechargeable chainsaw.

Bonnie Johnson
 
D. Logan
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Location: Soutwest Ohio
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Thanks for the input. I didn't realize that goats would eat this plant. That might explain why it is so out of control here. Almost no-one owns a goat around here that I have seen. At least now I have a way or two to fight the stuff on my own property once I have a bit of my own land. I can't say that I have had the same experience with pulling it out of the ground being easy though. Maybe our soil is a little different here. Anyway, again thank you to everyone who offered insights.
 
Ghislaine de Lessines
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I've found the smaller sapling like bushes to be easy to pull out but the bigger mature ones certainly aren't. I'm glad to hear that goats will eat it as I am obligated to remove it from my property as well.
 
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