Honeysuckles are arching shrubs or twining vines in the genus Lonicera (/lɒˈnɪsərə/) of the family Caprifoliaceae, native to northern latitudes in North America and Eurasia. Approximately 180 species of honeysuckle have been identified in both continents. Widely known species include Lonicera periclymenum (common honeysuckle or woodbine), Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle, white honeysuckle, or Chinese honeysuckle) and Lonicera sempervirens (coral honeysuckle, trumpet honeysuckle, or woodbine honeysuckle). L. japonica is an aggressive, highly invasive species considered a significant pest on the continents of North America, Europe, South America, Australia, and Africa.
Some species are highly fragrant and colorful, so are cultivated as ornamental garden plants. In North America, hummingbirds are attracted to the flowers, especially L. sempervirens and L. ciliosa (orange honeysuckle). Honeysuckle derives its name from the edible sweet nectar obtainable from its tubular flowers. The name Lonicera stems from Adam Lonicer, a Renaissance botanist.
Several species of honeysuckle have become invasive when introduced outside their native range, particularly in North America, Europe, South America, Australia, and Africa. Invasive species include L. japonica, L. maackii, L. morrowii, L. tatarica, and the hybrid between the last two, L. × bella.
Honeysuckle is renowned for its colorful, fragrant flowers and variously colored fruit, indicating the presence of complex phytochemicals underlying these properties. Component analyses of berries from 27 different cultivars and 3 genotypes of edible honeysuckle (Lonicera caerulea var. kamtschatica) showed the presence of iridoids, anthocyanins, flavonols, flavanonols, flavones, flavan-3-ols, and phenolic acids. While sugars determine the level of sweetness in the berries, organic acids and polyphenols are responsible for the sour taste and tartness. Some 51 of the same compounds in berries are found in flowers, although the proportions of these compounds varied among cultivars studied.
Many insects in the order Lepidoptera visit honeysuckles as a food source. An example of this is the moth Deilephila elpenor. This nocturnal species of moth is especially attracted to honeysuckles, and they visit the flowers at night to feed on their nectar.
Everyone recognizes the lovely fragrance of a honeysuckle plant and the sweet taste of its nectar. Honeysuckles are heat-tolerant and wildly attractive in any garden. A honeysuckle plant is a great addition to any landscape and will draw abundant wildlife with its sweet, yellow to bright-red blossoms.
Honeysuckles (Lonicera spp.) belong to a large family that consists of hardy shrubs and vines that grow in almost every state in America. There are over 180 different varieties of honeysuckle. Some are deciduous and some, in warmer regions, are evergreen. Because of their versatility and abundance, growing and caring for honeysuckle vines is easy.
While honeysuckles prefer full sun, they will tolerate some shade. The honeysuckle plant is also tolerant of different soil types, though it helps to grow the vine in well-draining soil amended with organic matter.
Most of us think of honeysuckles as twining climbers with pretty, scented tubular flowers, perfect for covering walls, fences and pergolas. But there are also evergreen, shrubby types that make an excellent honeysuckle bush, hedging or topiary. Both belong to the genus Lonicera and there are many different cultivars, hailing from Europe, Asia, the Mediterranean and North America. Lonicera periclymenum (wild honeysuckle, common honeysuckle or woodbine) is native to the UK.
Climbing honeysuckles can be deciduous, semi-evergreen or evergreen, depending on the variety. Deciduous species tend to have a more spectacular display of flowers; the evergreen honeysuckle types bear smaller, less significant blooms but give foliage cover all year round.
Shrubby honeysuckles can be deciduous or evergreen. Evergreen types such as Lonicera nitida (now renamed as Lonicera ligustrina var. yunnanensis) have small leaves that are similar to those of box, and are often used to create a honeysuckle bush, hedge or even topiary. If you have had problems with box blight or box tree caterpillar on your box plants, Lonicera nitida makes a sensible alternative. Lonicera fragrantissima and Lonicera x purpusii are deciduous and bear deliciously scented flowers in winter.
Grow climbing honeysuckles in moist but well-drained soil in partial shade, ideally with the roots in shade but the stems in sun, such as at the base of a west-facing wall or fence. Give them a sturdy frame to climb up, such as a trellis or wire frame. Water plants in dry spells and feed with a general purpose fertiliser in spring. Grow shrubby honeysuckles in moist but well drained soil in sun or partial shade.
When planting any honeysuckle, dig in some well-rotted organic matter, such as garden compost or well rotted manure, into the soil before planting. Dig a hole that is the same size as the rootball, and plant at the same depth as the plant was in the pot. Mulch with organic matter to help with water retention. Water in well.
Climbing honeysuckles are self-clinging but require a helping hand when young. If you're growing one against a wall or fence, put up some galvanised wires and lead the plant to these by guiding the stems with a bamboo cane, or tie them in to a support.
Beware of the 'rain shadow' that can occur at the base of walls and fences, where rain doesn't penetrate the soil. Mulching around the base of the climbing honeysuckles in spring, with well rotted manure or garden compost, can help to retain moisture.
If your climbing honeysuckle is overgrown, renovate it in late winter by cutting it back hard. In this vintage clip from Gardeners' World, Joe Swift demonstrates how to prune honeysuckle growing on an obelisk:
Shrubby honeysucklesDeciduous shrubby honeysuckles can be pruned after flowering in late spring or summer. If your plant is very overgrown, you can cut it back hard in late winter or early spring. In this clip from Gardeners' World, Monty Don prunes a winter-flowering honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima, showing where and how much to cut in order to generate new shoots that will carry fragrant blooms next winter and early spring:
Honeysuckle aphid can be a real problem for climbing honeysuckles. Leaves become distorted and curled as the sucking insects feed on the plant. The aphids excrete honeydew which then leads to sooty mould. Plants that are in poor health are more prone to infestation. Prune out very badly infested shoots, or apply an organic insecticide as a last resort. Plants are less prone to aphid attack if they are grown in partial shade.
Lonicera japonica 'Halliana' is a vigorous evergreen honeysuckle that bears scented yellow and white flowers in summer. It has the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM). H x S: 3m x 4.5m
Lonicera fragrantissima is known as the winter honeysuckle as it bears white, highly scented flowers on the leafless branches from January to March. This deciduous shrub is fully hardy. H x S: 2m x 3m
Lonicera pileata (box-leaved honeysuckle) is a dense evergreen shrub with small, box-like leaves, ideal for topiary or a dense, low-growing hedge. It bears small, creamy white flowers in spring and purple berries in autumn. It is a good alternative to box if box blight or box tree caterpillar is a problem. H x S: 1m x 2.5m
Few plants are as beloved by our pollinators as honeysuckle. Vining and perennial, it will provide your garden with years of color and hummingbird habitat. Learn how to plant, grow, and care for honeysuckle.
In some regions of North America, invasive honeysuckles have become a considerable problem. They can choke out native trees and cover large patches of land with nearly impenetrable ground cover. Their spread is aided by the birds who feast on the fruit and then drop the seeds in new locations.
Select a location with adequate drainage. Honeysuckle appreciates moist soil but not soggy conditions. If your soil is heavy, poorly draining clay, consider making a large raised berm to plant your honeysuckle in.
BiodiverseCity St. Louis Network partners join together to spotlight the harmful impact of bush honeysuckle on our region. Bush honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) degrades our beautiful woodlands, neighborhoods, backyards, trails, and stream banks into impenetrable thickets lacking ecological, economic, or recreational value. Beginning in 2016, organizations have hosted biannual public events and volunteer workdays throughout the months of March and November. Volunteers remove bush honeysuckle and replant with native species to improve public spaces for wildlife habitat, recreation, and enjoyment.
In an effort to energize the greater St. Louis region around improving habitat for our native plants and animals, area conservation organizations join together to spotlight invasive bush honeysuckle and the need to remove it so that large swaths of land can become productive areas for native habitat, recreation and enjoyment. To that end, organizations will host public events and volunteer removal days during Honeysuckle Sweep Month(s).
Its vegetative parts look pretty similar to the Japanese honeysuckle, except for having blood-red berries instead of black ones. It also grows a bit smaller, reaching a maximum height and width of 10 feet in Zones 3 to 6.
This vining, semi-evergreen species has bright red flowers and berries, plus leaves similar to those of the perfoliate honeysuckle. It can grow up to 20 feet in height, and can potentially go higher on a suitable support structure.
Cathead Honeysuckle is made by hand in small batches using all natural ingredients. Our process is simple, just like our memories of pulling honeysuckle off the vine. A sweet and delicate flavor with a well-rounded fresh finish. 781b155fdc