A native American vine, coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) climbs or rambles in the landscape with upright and sprawling evergreen foliage. This vine is perennial, lasting for years with wood-like stems. In summer's heat clusters of red flowers are pollinated, resulting in small red fleshy berries that are eaten by birds and scattered, germinating to create new plants.
When soil is moist and warm, the tiny coral honeysuckle seed will germinate and being growing as long as danger of frost does not threaten it during this most delicate of stages. A small taproot initially forms to sustain the growth of first true leaves and stem elongation.
First Year's Growth
For the first growing season, the plant expands its root system and forms long, vining or sprawling stems upon the ground or upright support like a tree trunk. By the end of the growing season in autumn, the stems are wood-like in texture and strength. Leaves may be retained through the winter if temperatures are not too cold.
Subsequent Years' Growth
With the return of spring's warmth, new stems and foliage grows from existing stems that survived the winter. Stems that are now one-year old will form clusters of coral-red flowers that are tubular in shape in late spring or early summer. The flowers are nectar-rich and attract hummingbirds and butterflies for pollination.
The plant continues growing year after year from the stems it cumulatively creates, growing to a length/height of 15 to 20 feet. Flowers arise only on stems that are one-year old: those that endured through one winter dormancy period.
After the flowers are pollinated in early summer, the ovary at the base of the flower is fertilized and ripens, developing a fleshy covering of orange-red around the tiny seeds. The fruits ripen by early autumn and are eaten by songbirds and then scattered in their droppings.
The dropped fruits hit the ground in autumn, and the moist flesh around the seeds dries or decays, exposing the seeds to the soil and elements over winter. Once the soil and air warms in spring, the seeds germinate and a new plant life begins.