One of the most invasive exotic shrubs in Mid-Missouri is the Asian Bush Honeysuckle.  This shrub has become more common than any other shrub throughout the neglected landscapes in and around the City of Columbia, as well as other municipalities and subdivisions.  The primary problem it creates is that it outcompetes many of our native shrubs and perennials.   In landscapes where it is uncontrolled, there may be very little other shrub or perennial vegetation.  We can say that it is like a villainous super shrub on a mission of domination.  A handful of bird species eat the fruit and disperse them to new areas where they can colonize and conquer the landscape.  The control of this villain begins with hand pulling in the winter months.

While we have many days that are freezing and wet during the winter months, we also have some really beautiful days when the temperatures are in the 40s or 50s and are quite convincing in getting us to come out from our winter indoor hibernation.  If you are itching to do a little yard work and you have Asian Bush Honeysuckle invading your landscape it’s a perfect time to get moving.

Asian Bush Honeysuckle, while being very tolerant of all the possible Mid-Missouri climatic challenges:  extreme heat, drought, flooding, snow, below zero temperatures, infertile soils, etc., it does have one weakness – a shallow root system.  Hand pulling seedlings is a so easy even a child can help out.   With gloves to protect your skin, simply grab the small plant near the base and give a tug.  You will be surprised how easily they come out of the ground.  For those more physically inclined or up for the challenge, shrubs that are as big as four or five feet can be pulled out.  Unlike some other weeds, the top of the plant will rarely break off before the roots can be pulled out.  The root system is very fibrous and spreads along the surface of the soil often just under leaf litter or loose soils.  While hand pulling can be done any time of the year, the winter months see some of the ideal soil-moisture conditions for allowing the roots to come out easily.  Plus, there isn’t so much landscape work to do this time of year compared to the other seasons.

While it can seem like a daunting task to control this beast, doing an area at a time makes a surprising difference that you will notice.  And keeping on top of it will be much easier than waiting until it has spread like a wildfire, in which control will be nearly impossible without the use of chemicals or fire.