Red berries can seem festive at this time of year, and you may notice some adorning our shrubs in the eastern third of Kansas. They are likely one of two species of bush honeysuckle, Amur and Tartarian. Although they can provide a quick-growing screen or backdrop to the landscape reaching six to twenty feet tall, they can easily become invasive and are included on the noxious weeds list for many states.
The bush varieties of honeysuckle leaf out earlier than many other plants in the spring and remain into late fall. The long growing season supports vigorous growth each year enabling it to fill the woodland understory. Left ignored bush honeysuckle will spread quickly and creates competition for native woodland wildflowers and shrubs.
Hand pulling bush honeysuckle can be effective when the plants are small if the ground is wet. For larger plant chemical control is likely necessary. Cutting the stems to the ground without chemical application will result in vigorous resprouting. Research has shown one of the most effective methods for controlling bush honeysuckle is cutting the branches to the ground and spraying the cut stems immediately with concentrated (20%-50%) glyphosate (i.e., Roundup). Foliar applications of glyphosate or Crossbow (2, 4-D + triclopyr) in late summer and fall can also be effective especially if applied on young plants though damage can be caused by overspray onto nearby plants. Follow all label instructions when using pesticides.
Cynthia Domenghini, Extension Agent