Honeysuckle vines are sturdy, vigorous vines with showy, sweet-smelling blooms that are attractive not only to human admirers, but to hummingbirds and butterflies that will enjoy the nectar all summer. In late summer, honeysuckles produce berries that will feed songbirds, providing much-needed energy for the coming winter. The vines will grow happily over a fence, wall or trellis, or can be left to ramble unfettered as a ground cover, where they will control erosion even on hilly or sandy areas. Most honeysuckle varieties are deciduous, although many will be evergreen in climates with warm winters. Many varieties are aggressive and can become invasive if they aren't closely monitored.
Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is a woody vine that can grow to lengths of more than 80 feet. The aromatic flowers are white, with a purple or pinkish tint, but will turn pale yellow before they fade. The vine does well along fences, forest edges and roadsides, and is often planted as an erosion-controlling ground cover, where it provides welcome shelter for small wildlife and shiny, black berries for birds. Unfortunately, Japanese honeysuckle is such a vigorous grower that it can become invasive, and is especially problematic when it takes up residency in place of native plants in areas that have been damaged by floods, logging or road construction.
Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) will produce showy, sweet-scented blooms that are bright orange or coral red on the outside and a soft yellow on the inside. Unlike many honeysuckle varieties, coral honeysuckle can safely be planted in a garden, and it won't threaten to choke your prize perennials or rose bushes. Plant it next to a fence or wall and let it meander, or install a trellis for it to climb on. Coral honeysuckle, also known as woodbine, also does well in containers, and will happily brighten up a balcony or patio.
Dropmore Scarlet Honeysuckle
Dropmore scarlet honeysuckle (Lonicera brownii) is a sturdy, winter-hardy, low-maintenance vine that can withstand drought, heat, humidity, pollution and wind. Although the clusters of bright red, tube-shaped blooms aren't as fragrant as most honeysuckle varieties, they will still attract hummingbirds to the garden from early summer to mid-autumn, and will produce bright red berries that birds will love. Dropmore scarlet honeysuckle grows well in moist ground, as long as the soil drains well. Although it will produce the loveliest blooms in full sunlight, it will bloom fairly well in partial shade. Dropmore scarlet honeysuckle grows fast and like many honeysuckle varieties, can become intrusive if not controlled.
Pink Tartarian Honeysuckle
Tartarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica) bursts out with pink blooms in early spring that will contrast with bright orange and red fruit in July and August. Tartarian honeysuckle is a bush-type honeysuckle that will grow no more than 8 to 10 feet at maturity. Unlike many varieties of honeysuckle, Tartarian honeysuckle is more compact and has a rounded shape that makes it useful as a privacy screen or hedge plant. Tartarian honeysuckle has a tendency to become invasive and should be kept under tight control so it doesn't become a problem.