After 7 years of removing and killing honeysuckles, I have come up with some cool ways to kill ones too big to remove with the Popper. The reason these methods work is because bush honeysuckles do not and cannot sprout from buried roots. I put that in bold letters to drive home the point. Honeysuckle does not shoot out root suckers. Its true, and that fact makes killing bush honeysuckle not as difficult as some may think. In my 5 years of observations, I have yet to see a root sprout coming from more than an inch of soil. It’s the vine type honeysuckle that can do that. The shrubs cannot. On the other hand- bush honeysuckles can and will sprout from any part of the stump or roots that are left exposed to air.
Heres a tip you probably dont know: You can kill a honeysuckle stump simply by putting a pile of dirt on top of it. Yep, it works. You need 2-4" of solid soil over it and you need to pack it down good. You can even add some mulch on top and plant some flowers on it. A couple of people looked at me like I was crazy when I told them this, but I'm here to tell you, its true. Try it. You'll see for yourself.
The point here is: When popping you only need to make sure any leftover severed roots are covered, you don't have to pull them out. They rot underground.
Cut and rub it:
You don't just sit back and watch as the honeysuckle stumps thrive with re-growth, You keep on fighting.
The idea with this method is you kill the stump by removing the new shoots as they emerge. Without new leaves, the stump is history.
This picture shows how soft and tender the sprouts are. They rub off easily, even when a couple inches long. This works if you can return to the cut honeysuckle stump every 10 days or so for a period of 3 to 4 months.
Cut all the large branches about 3 feet from the ground and cut off small shoots where they exit the crown. Make sure there is no leaf left. In a week or so, new shoots will emerge. These shoots are very tender and can easily be rubbed off with gloves on. Be regular about it. By not allowing any leaf growth, you are essentially starving the roots, and the honeysuckle will die within 4 months. If you start it late in the season, you will need to continue rubbing the next spring.
There are several reasons you want to cut the branches about 3 feet from the ground. The biggest reason for me is it makes it easier to remove the stump after its rotted because you can rock it back and forth while popping. Additionally, the new shoots tend to mostly emerge up higher on the branches which means you don’t have to do as much bending over to service it. Finially, it stays readily visible and will not get lost in the new weeds you are going to get in the now sunnier area.
It takes at least 2 years after it dies for the stump to rot enough to remove it with the popper. You will find that the popper will easily tear through rotted roots and the stump will take only a few minutes to get out.
BAG'em - 100% effective
The idea here is to prevent any light from reaching the sprouts. This method I discovered can replace herbicide use completely! Its cheaper than herbicides and easy.
You can kill a honeysuckle stump by covering it with thick, black plastic sheet. There is some 6 mill thick plastic available at hardware stores which works best. If you have some 4 mil, use 2 layers. Black garbage bags will work if you use 3 or 4 of them but they flap around more.
For this, I like to cut it off 1-2 ft high, but it works equally as well or better for a stump cut at the ground.
Cut the plastic large enough to lay over the stump with about a foot extra. Wrap the plastic over the stump and secure it with twine so it is snug. This keeps it from flapping in the wind.
Stake it securely down all around to keep air and light out. Leave it on for a year, and you will have 100% success. What happens under the plastic? It sprouts like crazy but the shoots cannot penetrate the plastic. They are white colored and shrivel quickly. Also, you are baking the stump every day.
To make the plastic wrapped stump blend in better, I like to cover the plastic with a piece of burlap.
The plastic must be staked down completely at the ground with multiple stakes or a sprout will shoot out from underneath.