With around 180 species, honeysuckle choices are quite vast. Honeysuckle is used extensively in medicines, for food and basket making and as landscape plants all over the world. Honeysuckles provide a heady garden fragrance that is often captured for use in perfumes and other cosmetic products. Their dense foliage can be used as evergreen living fences, and on walls and arbors. Species native to the area being planted can make good animal habitats, provide groundcover and aid in erosion control.
Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is edible and is often found in traditional Japanese medicines, often paired with Forsythia (Forsythia suspensa).With antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, the plant is used in medications to treat fevers, ulcers and influenza and to remove toxins.
Honeysuckle is also high in potassium, magnesium and calcium. Honeysuckle contains a compound known as saponin that carries some degree of toxicity. In the past, Japanese tribesmen even placed honeysuckle in streams to stun fish as an aid in catching them.
The flexible and strong vines of the honeysuckle plant are often used in basket making. When soaked for a few hours the woody vines become pliable enough to work without cracking. When the baskets dry, they are sturdy and attractive. When artfully crafted, these baskets can be quite expensive.
Growing Conditions and Colors
Honeysuckle prefers well-drained soils that hold water without becoming sodden for extended periods. It prefers full sun. It can grow in partial sun but will bloom less frequently. Plenty of organic matter turned into the soil and used as mulch provides healthier, more vigorous than unimproved soil. Orange Cape honeysuckle is hardy only in zones 9 to 11 , but many others are hardy and will thrive in zones 4 to11. Bloom-enhancing fertilizers should be used; too much nitrogen will provide lush foliage with little blooming.
Perhaps one of the best attributes of this plant is the range of colors it provides. Honeysuckle species come in shades of red, pink, orange, yellow, white, lavender, pink-and-orange, yellow-and-orange, yellow-and-white and even more color combinations. Various colored plants may be crossed to create an even wider array of combinations.
Effects of Invasive Honeysuckle
Non-native honeysuckle competes with native species. When left to grow uncontrolled, honeysuckle can form dense canopies blocking light, rain and nutrients other plants require. When an area's native flora begins to die out the fauna suffers alongside it. For the same reasons, invasive honeysuckle is also a pest in gardens.
Honeysuckle Control Methods
Its tenacious habit has made invasive honeysuckles (such as Japanese honeysuckle) a pest in many areas of North America. Control methods include hand pulling, constant mowing and herbicide applications. Consistent mowing of honeysuckle robs the plants of stored nutrients, slowly causing death.
Additional Honeysuckle Information
When planting honeysuckle it is a good idea to know the species at hand. Nurseries offer different species to suit nearly every gardening need. When trimmed, some honeysuckles can be grown as tall shrubs or short hedges. Honeysuckle also makes a good topiary plant that fills in fast while offering nectar-filled blossoms for hummingbirds and butterflies.