'Dropmore Scarlet' trumpet honeysuckle. Photo by Matt Lavin.

Question from Desperate Reader: Could you tell me how and when to prune an 'Alabama Crimson' trumpet honeysuckle? Right now, it is a tangled, huge mess, but I don't want to ruin the spring bloom. I'd also like to know how to grow it almost flat on a trellis.

Grumpy's Totally Correct Answer: 'Alabama Crimson' is a beautiful form of our well-behaved, native trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) -- not to be confused with that horrible weed imported from Asia, Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica). 'Alabama Crimson,' along with a similar-looking hybrid, 'Dropmore Scarlet,' bloom not just in spring, but also repeatedly during the summer. Nonetheless, if you prune in fall or winter, you'll remove the spring flowers and there's no point in doing that.

Instead, wait until after the main spring bloom and then cut the vine way back. Don't worry -- it's a vine, so it'll grow back quickly. Train the new stems that sprout to wind in and out of the trellis. Pinch off growth that heads the wrong way. Or pull branches upright that want to head out horizontally. Use twine to attach them to the trellis until they attach themselves. This means lots of pruning, pinching, and tying during the growing season to keep your vine in bounds. But that's what it takes.

Woodlanders is a good mail-order source for trumpet honeysuckle if they don't have it at your local garden center. It's easy to grow. Just give it sun and well-drained soil.

Grumpy's on Vacay!

emThe Isle of Santorini. Photo by HBarrison./em

That's right! For the next couple of weeks, Grumpy will be cruising to exotic locales all over the known world as he seeks to recharge his gardening batteries. He will not be able to check email during this time, so either wait until October 29 to post a gardening question or wait patiently for an answer.

Don't think Grumpy has abandoned you. In the time I'm away, I will be answering a gardening question sent in by a faithful reader right here every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.

Now could I please have another glass of red?


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