Grow Colorful, Fragrant Honeysuckle

Curtains of color and fragrance, exuberant Honeysuckle gives a lavish display of delicate blooms on a tough, trouble-free climber.

Orange Red Trumpet Honey Suckle with Humming Bird | GardenersPath.com

The vines climb by twining and winding their stems around branches of other plants or supports, such as twine or rope, wire fencing of a trellis.

Clustered blooms are 4-5cm long in beautiful shades of red, pink, white or yellow. The oval to spade-shaped leaves, which grow up to 8 cm long, are deciduous or evergreen. The fragrant flowers are followed by red or yellow berries in autumn.

The most familiar Honeysuckle flowers are narrow, flared tubes. Hall’s Honeysuckle bears sweetly scented, white flowers that age to yellow on a rampant, spreading vine with dark green leaves.

The less aggressive Gold-net variety has similar flowers, but its green leaves are attractively veined and netted in yellow.

Other Honeysuckles have flowers shaped like trumpets. Unscented orange, red or yellow blooms with yellow stamens decorate the 6 meter Trumpet variety. In a mild winter, the vigorous vine will retain some of its leaves.

Pliable stems let you train plants in a variety of ways, making this versatile vine suitable for many areas.

Use the largest growing varieties as sweet-scented, flowering screens, to cover garden sheds, and to quickly provide leafy, overhead shade on pergolas.

Allow these luxuriant vines to blanket hillsides, where they will create fragrant ground-covers. Plant the smaller cultivars where they can become pillars of color on posts or tree trunks. Train them to decorate a wall, to create a flowering fringe along a fence top or beneath eaves, or simply let stems wind through a trellis.

Bountiful Honeysuckles can furnish color and fragrance behind, or twining among, plantings of other sun-loving shrubs and perennials.

The firecracker red flowered ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ variety makes a striking companion to the saucer-like, intense yellow blooms of shrubby St John’s Wort. Use this 4 meter showy perennial as a backdrop to a mass planting of Roses with blooms of cream and orange shades.

Bright gold forsythia, white and cool-colored Phlox and the azure haze of Caryopteris are lovely mates for a shower or the red and gold, fragrant blooms of either the Gold Flame cultivar or the variety ‘Firecracker’, which as bright red flowers.

The yellow-centered, purple flowers of L. periclymenum are striking in combination with orange-yellow Heliopsis ‘Patula’.

Planting

1. Install trellis. Dig a hole 30 cm from the trellis as deep as the plant’s rootball and twice as wide. Mix a shovelful of compost into the soil.

2. Remove the plant from its container and check the rootball. Lightly rough up its surface, loosening any circling roots.

3. Place in the planting hole so the top of its rootball is level with the soil surface. Fill in with compost-soil mixture.

4. Water the newly planted Honeysuckle to establish good root-soil contact. Apply a mulch of compost or Pine needles.

5. Secure stems with ties as the young plant grows. In time, stems will twine around and through the support provided.

To propagate plants, remove all but the upper leaves from a low stem. Bend the stem to the ground and cut at soil level. Bury 2cm deep; the new plant will root by next summer.

Buying tips

Buy container-grown evergreen Honeysuckles with healthy, green foliage. Purchase deciduous types with healthy buds and no leaves. Avoid plants that have outgrown their containers, as root-bound plants will take longer to establish.

Growing conditions

Full sun to partial shade is required. The best planting situation is where the roots are shaded, but where the stems can grow up into the sunlight. All varieties need average, well-drained soil. During dry periods, water thoroughly and regularly.

Training tips

To train Honeysuckle to climb a wall or other flat surface, provide sturdy string supports or a trellis for stems to twine around. The Lonicera japonica variety is very vigorous, and may become a problem unless routinely trimmed.

Seasonal tips

Late winter-early spring: Planting

Plant evergreen varieties as the weather warms up.

Summer: Watering and spraying pests

Water plants during dry periods. Hall’s variety will tolerate some drought. If necessary, spray aphids with insecticidal soap.

Autumn: Pruning

After plants have finished flowering, thin out tangled stems and prune out old, weak and excess growth.

Winter: Planting

In warm-weather areas, plant deciduous Honeysuckle varieties while the plants are still leafless.

Powdery mildew forms grey to white, felt-like patches on leaves, causing leaves to turn yellow and sometimes deforming flower buds. Remove infected leaves and branches. If infestation is severe, spray with a fungicide recommended for use on powdery mildew.

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