Honeysuckle (Lonicera)

Honeysuckle (Lonicera) - Garden Basics - Flower - Perennial

The honeysuckle family includes 180 species of shrubs and climbing vines that grow in varied habitats ranging from woodlands to rocky places. . All are known for their attractive, often fragrant, 1/2- to 1-inch pink, white or red funnel or bell-shaped flowers and for their 1/3-inch red or yellow berries that birds relish. The berries are not suitable for human consumption and may cause mild stomach distress. The 1- to 3-inch leaves are borne in opposite pairs. They appear early in spring and drop off late in autumn.

Honeysuckle is a very low maintenance plant and is seldom bothered by pests. It is suitable for a shrub border, but it is most striking when the vine is trained to climb against a wall or up into a larger shrub or tree.

Winter Honeysuckle
L. fragrantissima
Height: 6 ft. Width: 8-10 feet Zones: 5-8
Flower: very fragrant, creamy white, 1/2 inch long, tubular, blooms in winter and early spring
Comments: Produces red berries in early summer. Leaves drop in winter in zone 5 and 6, but the plant is evergreen in other areas.
Amur Honeysuckle
L. maackki
Height: 15 ft Width: 15 ft Zones: 5-9
Flower: fragrant, white, 3/4 inch long, tubular, blooms in early summer
Comments: Upright and treelike. Dark red berries until late fall. May become invasive.
Morrow Honeysuckle
L. morrowii
Height: 6 ft. Width: 9 feet Zones: 4-9
Flower: white turning yellow as they mature, 2-1/2 inch long, tubular, blooms in late spring and early summer.
Comments: Better suited to small gardens. Bears dark crimson translucent fruit in midsummer.
Tatarian Honeysuckle
L. tatarica
Height: 12 ft Width: 8 ft Zones: 3-9
Flower: yellow, pink or red, 1 inch long, blooms in late spring or early summer.
Comments: Most universally grown of all the species. Red or yellow berries in midsummer. Upright, bushy habit. May become invasive. Best variety to use as a hedge.

Growing Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle needs full sun, but will tolerate light shade with fewer flowers and berries. Almost any well-drained soil will do. They are best planted in the fall, and rarely need pruning unless insects are a problem. Shape hedges twice each summer. If planting as a hedge, space shrubs about three feet apart.

Plants should be watered freely during summer, and sparingly during winter. Feed monthly during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer.

Propagate from softwood cuttings in late spring or summer, or from cuttings of mature growth in mid or late summer. Hardwood cuttings can be taken in fall and winter. Sow seeds in a cold frame as soon as they are ripe.

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