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Honeysuckle (Lonicera)
Honeysuckle (Lonicera)

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Zones 1-41, H1, H2
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Regular Water

Lonicera japonica

Japanese honeysuckle
Deciduous, Evergreen, Vines


Most honeysuckles are valued for their clustered or paired, often fragrant flowers. Blossoms are tubular in form. Some have two flaring, unequal lips; others are trumpets or straight tubes, sometimes flaring at the mouth into five equal lobes. Flowers attract hummingbirds, and the red or purple berries that follow provide food for many other kinds of birds. Blossoms typically deepen in color after opening, so clusters contain both pale and darker blooms.

Lonicera japonica

This vine is evergreen in mild-winter climates, semievergreen or deciduous in colder areas. Native to eastern Asia. Can reach 30 ft. Rampant (even invasive) plant that can become a weed, since birds spread the seeds; consider planting the similar but less aggressive L. periclymenum. The basic species has oval deep green leaves and sweet-scented, two-lipped, purple-tinged white flowers from spring to fall. ‘Aureo-reticulata’, goldnet honeysuckle, with leaves veined in yellow, is better behaved than L. japonica; variegation is especially strong in full sun. ‘Halliana’, Hall’s honeysuckle, is the most vigorous and widely grown variety, with pure white flowers that age to yellow and attract bees. ‘Purpurea’ (probably the same as L. j. chinensis) has leaves with purple-tinged undersides and flowers that are purplish red outside, white inside.

Of those mentioned, ‘Halliana’ is the most commonly used as a bank and groundcover and for erosion control in large areas; as a groundcover, set plants 2–3 ft. apart. Unless curbed, it can smother less-vigorous plants. Hard annual pruning keeps undergrowth from building up and becoming a fire hazard. Train as a privacy or wind screen on chain-link or wire fence. Takes drought well when established; tolerates poor drainage.

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