Vines add vertical beauty to a garden. Fast growing honeysuckle vines are easy to grow. Their intoxicatingly wonderful floral fragrance attracts hummingbirds, bees, and hummingbird moths.

The story of these two honeysuckle vines is a lesson in using native plants. The Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) was brought here from East Asia because of its fragrant and beautiful flowers. However, it is extremely invasive and has become a real pest in much of the United States. Like its invasive cousin the bush honeysuckle (Tatarian, Morrow’s or Amur), birds spread the honeysuckle vine’s seeds. Thousands of dollars are spent each year removing invasive honeysuckles so that our native wildflowers, shrubs, and trees can grow again.

The better choice is one of our native honeysuckle vines. Most native honeysuckles are native to the eastern part of the United States and are not considered invasive. The trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) has scarlet-orange flowers with yellow centers that are hardy in zones 4 to 9. Though not fragrant the trumpet-shaped flowers are attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. Yellow honeysuckle (Lonicera flava) features fragrant, orange-yellow flowers but it is only hardy in zones 5 through 8.

Newer plant selections are hybrids between native species. This cross gives the plants winter hardiness along with good flower fragrance and performance. Here are a couple of examples to try.

Dropmore Scarlet honeysuckle (Lonicera x brownii ‘Dropmore Scarlet’) crosses L. sempervirens with L. hirsuta. Dropmore honeysuckle produces fragrant scarlet-orange tubular flowers from early summer through mid-autumn that attract hummingbirds and bees.

Goldflame honeysuckle (Lonicera × heckrottii) crosses L. americana and L. sempervirens. It is a twining vine or small shrub that features extremely fragrant rose-pink flowers with yellow interiors.

There are other native vines to try, but beware because some also have an invasive cousin. Therefore, choose American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) over oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiulatus); American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens or macrostachya) instead of Japanese wisteria (W. floribunda) or Chinese wisteria (W. sinensis); and Peppervine (Ampelopsis arborea) as a substitute for porcelain berry (Ampeolpsis brevidendunculata).

In recent years I’ve replaced my Japanese honeysuckles with native honeysuckle vines. Give them a try in your yard too.

Author: Rhonda Ferree

Rhonda Ferree is Extension Educator in Horticulture for the Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Extension Unit. She has been with University of Illinois Extension for over 20 years where she has held several positions and received many awards. Ferree has a master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from the University of Illinois. View all posts by Rhonda Ferree

Honeysuckles: For Better or For Worse

David Trinklein
University of Missouri
(573) 882-9631

Published: May 5, 2016

The honeysuckles are a group of vigorous woody vines and shrubs that can be grown nearly anywhere. As a rule, they produce abundant foliage, flowers and fruit, and are nearly indestructible. The latter also explains why certain species of honeysuckle can quickly get out of control and become a pest in the landscape.

Honeysuckles belong to the genus Lonicera, which contains about 180 identified species. Most are native to the Orient although native species do exist in Europe, India and North America. The common name honeysuckle is derived from the sweet nectar which can be sucked from their flowers.

The term honeysuckle most often is associated with twining, woody vines. The latter can be good or bad. The bad reputation of honeysuckle has been earned by only a few species, the most notorious of which is Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica). Hall’s honeysuckle is a commonly-grown cultivar of Japanese honeysuckle. Youngsters love this plant because the sweet nectar that can be sucked from its flowers; most adults despise it because of its invasive tendencies.

Planted with good intentions, Japanese honeysuckle often becomes a weedy, twining vine that can grow from 15 to 30 feet in length. It was introduced into the eastern United States from the Orient in the early 19th century and has spread into many native areas since that time. Although a serious pest in many areas, it has become especially problematic in the southeastern part of the United States. Japanese honeysuckle bears semi-evergreen leaves and produces very fragrant flowers that change from white to yellow as they mature. Except for its tendency to become weedy, it can be very attractive.

Japanese honeysuckle no longer is recommended for landscape planting, since it easily gets out of control and becomes a nuisance. Left uncontrolled when located near shrubs and small trees, the plant vines over them and can choke them out. Birds spread its seeds by eating its berries and starting the plant under trees, along fences or other places birds might frequent.

Fortunately, not all vining honeysuckles are as vigorous and invasive as Japanese honeysuckle. The scarlet trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is a better choice for climbing the likes of a fence or trellis. While it may grow up to 20 feet or more in length, it is not nearly as vigorous as Japanese honeysuckle. Additionally, it does not produce abundant seeds that, subsequently, can be spread by birds. Its trumpet-shaped, red flowers are very attractive to hummingbirds which gives the plant additional summer interest.

Arguably the best choice for a vining honeysuckle is Brown’s honeysuckle (Lonicera x brownii). As its scientific name implies, it is a hybrid that has scarlet trumpet honeysuckle as one of its parents. ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ is a popular cultivar of Brown’s honeysuckle that is valued for its scarlet-red flowers produced over an extended period of time. Vigorous, yet not aggressive, it is a great choice for arbors and trellises. It, too, is very attractive to hummingbirds.

No doubt the most useful honeysuckles in the landscape are the shrub honeysuckles. The latter include species which produce large plants that make attractive screens, hedges, or large specimen plants. One of the most common in this group is Tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tartarica). Native to Siberia, it grows about 10 feet tall and equally wide when left unpruned. It bears red to pink flowers that later fade to white, depending upon cultivar. Its fruits are a red berry that ripens in June or early July and are a favorite food of birds. Although the plant cannot be considered nearly as serious a pest as Japanese honeysuckle, the abundant berries it produces contain seeds which are spread by birds, causing it to become weedy in some areas.

Winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) is another shrub-type honeysuckle that makes a good hedge or screen. It grows fairly quickly to a height of six to 10 feet and bears fragrant white flowers in very late winter or early spring, making it a pleasant harbinger of spring. Although it lacks other outstanding qualities, it is easy to grow in many types of soils and exposures.

Honeysuckles thrive in full sun, but will tolerate partial sun and light, afternoon shade. As a rule, shrub honeysuckles are intolerant of poorly-drained, wet soils to the point they eventually will weaken and die in such locations. Contrastingly, they are very tolerant of dry soils and can compete well with the roots of trees and other large shrubs. They can, however, overpower smaller plants and shrubs.

When honeysuckles become overgrown, they can be cut back to ground level with little adverse effects. New shoots quickly will develop and regenerate a new plant. Shrub honeysuckles that have been cut back often produce so many shoots from the root system that they must be thinned to allow only a few shoots to remain. As they grow and develop, these new shoots can be pruned to control the size and shape the plant.

Other honeysuckles of interest include the goldflame honeysuckle (Lonicera x heckrottii) which continues to bloom throughout the summer. Its flowers are pink on the outside and yellow on the inside and are exquisitely fragrant. For gardeners who want bluish-green color in their landscape, the Morrow honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowi)is a good choice. It bears creamy white flowers followed by red fruit on a dense, somewhat-tangled shrub that may achieve a mature height of six feet.

Conversely, Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) and bella honeysuckle (Lonicera x bella) are considered by most states as noxious, invasive plants that should be avoided. Both are erect, shrub honeysuckles native to Asia that tend to invade a wide variety of habitats. The result is the establishment of a monoculture that quickly crowds out native plants. Because of the affinity deer have for honeysuckle as a food source, research has shown a correlation between populations of Amur honeysuckle and tick-related diseases such as Lyme disease.

While it may be wise to avoid adding certain honeysuckles to your landscape, there are plenty of others have attractive flowers, pleasant fragrance and are easy-to-grow.

Lonicera, Brown’s Honeysuckle, Scarlet Trumpet Honeysuckle ‘Dropmore Scarlet’

Category:

Vines and Climbers

Water Requirements:

Unknown – Tell us

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade

Foliage:

Deciduous

Smooth

Foliage Color:

Blue-Green

Height:

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

Spacing:

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 °C (-30 °F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 °C (-25 °F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown – Tell us

Danger:

N/A

Bloom Color:

Scarlet (dark red)

Red-Orange

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown – Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Mid Fall

Late Fall/Early Winter

Blooms repeatedly

Other details:

Unknown – Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

From semi-hardwood cuttings

By air layering

Seed Collecting:

Unknown – Tell us

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Mc Calla, Alabama

Castro Valley, California

Citrus Heights, California

Fresno, California

San Jose, California

Glastonbury, Connecticut

Oak Lawn, Illinois

Springfield, Illinois

Streamwood, Illinois

Greenville, Indiana

Macy, Indiana

South Bend, Indiana

Adel, Iowa

Kalona, Iowa

Roslindale, Massachusetts

Stephenson, Michigan

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Saginaw, Minnesota

Helena, Montana

Papillion, Nebraska

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Himrod, New York

Kew Gardens, New York

North Tonawanda, New York

Lima, Ohio

Jones, Oklahoma

Norristown, Pennsylvania

Wyoming, Rhode Island

Rapid City, South Dakota

Magna, Utah

Ruther Glen, Virginia

Sterling, Virginia

Mercer Island, Washington

Oconto, Wisconsin

Thayne, Wyoming

show all

Lonicera x brownii ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ (Honeysuckle ‘Dropmore Scarlet’)

Botanical name

Lonicera x brownii ‘Dropmore Scarlet’

Other names

Honeysuckle ‘Dropmore Scarlet’, Scarlet trumpet honeysuckle ‘Dropmore Scarlet’

Genus

Lonicera Lonicera

Variety or Cultivar

‘Dropmore Scarlet’ _ ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ is a vigorous, semi-evergreen climber with ovate to rounded, blue-green leaves and whorled clusters of lightly fragrant, trumpet-shaped, bright scarlet flowers from midsummer into autumn, occasionally followed by red fruit.

Native to

Garden origin

Foliage

Semi evergreen

Fragrance

Flowers have a strong perfume.

Habit

Climbing

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Colour

Flower

Scarlet in Summer; Scarlet in Autumn

Blue-green in All seasons

How to care

Watch out for

Specific pests

Aphids , Thrips

Specific diseases

Powdery mildew

General care

Pruning

Pruning group 11

Propagation methods

Softwood cuttings, Semi-ripe cuttings

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Where to grow

Lonicera x brownii ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ (Honeysuckle ‘Dropmore Scarlet’) will reach a height of 4m and a spread of 2m after 5-10 years.

Suggested uses

City, Beds and borders, Coastal, Wallside and trellises

Cultivation

Grow in fertile, humus-rich, moist but well-drained soil. Best in partial shade but tolerates full sun.

Soil type

Chalky, Clay, Loamy, Sandy (will tolerate most soil types)

Soil drainage

Moist but well-drained

Soil pH

Acid, Alkaline, Neutral

Light

Partial Shade, Full Sun

Aspect

North, South, East, West

Exposure

Exposed, Sheltered

UK hardiness Note: We are working to update our ratings. Thanks for your patience.

Hardy (H4)

USDA zones

Zone 9, Zone 8, Zone 7, Zone 6, Zone 5, Zone 4

Defra’s Risk register #1

Plant name

Lonicera x brownii ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ (Honeysuckle ‘Dropmore Scarlet’)

Common pest name

European cherry fruit fly

Scientific pest name

Rhagoletis cerasi

Type

Insect

Current status in UK

Absent

Likelihood to spread to UK (1 is very low – 5 is very high)

Impact (1 is very low – 5 is very high)

General biosecurity comments

Fruit fly pest of cherry and honeysuckle; widely distributed in Europe and also present in North America and Asia. No evidence of establishment in the UK to date despite repeated interceptions; but honeysuckle and cherry growers may wish to be aware and monitor for its presence.

About this section

Our plants are under greater threat than ever before. There is increasing movement of plants and other material traded from an increasing variety of sources. This increases the chances of exotic pests arriving with imported goods and travellers, as well as by natural means. Shoot is working with Defra to help members to do their part in preventing the introduction and spread of invasive risks.

Traveling or importing plants? Please read “Don’t risk it” advice here

Suspected outbreak?

Date updated: 7th March 2019 For more information visit: https://planthealthportal.defra.gov.uk/

Plant Finder

Dropmore Scarlet Trumpet Honeysuckle flowers

Dropmore Scarlet Trumpet Honeysuckle flowers

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Dropmore Scarlet Trumpet Honeysuckle in bloom

Dropmore Scarlet Trumpet Honeysuckle in bloom

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height: 20 feet

Spread: 24 inches

Sunlight:

Hardiness Zone: 2b

Other Names: Brown’s Honeysuckle

Description:

An extremely hardy vine valued for its showy scarlet-red tubular flowers over a very long period; very easy to grow and not excessively aggressive, a great choice for arbors and trellises

Ornamental Features

Dropmore Scarlet Trumpet Honeysuckle features showy clusters of scarlet trumpet-shaped flowers with cherry red overtones and orange throats at the ends of the branches from late spring to mid summer. It has green foliage throughout the season. The oval leaves do not develop any appreciable fall colour. The fruit is not ornamentally significant. However, the fruit can be messy in the landscape and may require occasional clean-up.

Landscape Attributes

Dropmore Scarlet Trumpet Honeysuckle is a multi-stemmed deciduous woody vine with a twining and trailing habit of growth. Its relatively coarse texture can be used to stand it apart from other landscape plants with finer foliage.

This woody vine will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and is best pruned in late winter once the threat of extreme cold has passed. It is a good choice for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Dropmore Scarlet Trumpet Honeysuckle is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Hedges/Screening
  • General Garden Use

Planting & Growing

Dropmore Scarlet Trumpet Honeysuckle will grow to be about 20 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 24 inches. As a climbing vine, it tends to be leggy near the base and should be underplanted with low-growing facer plants. It should be planted near a fence, trellis or other landscape structure where it can be trained to grow upwards on it, or allowed to trail off a retaining wall or slope. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 20 years.

This woody vine should only be grown in full sunlight. It does best in average to evenly moist conditions, but will not tolerate standing water. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. Consider applying a thick mulch around the root zone in winter to protect it in exposed locations or colder microclimates. This particular variety is an interspecific hybrid.

How to Plant, Grow and Care for Honeysuckle Plants

Honeysuckle plants are usually sold in 1-gal. containers beginning in early spring.

Honeysuckle can be planted in early spring, as soon as frost danger has passed.
Prepare the planting area as you would for any other perennial and set the plants a minimum of two to three apart and 6″-12″ away from any support structure. Plant them 2 feet apart if you are using them as a ground cover plant.
Water the plants thoroughly, and follow up with repeated soakings until the plant shows signs of new growth.
Mulch the plant with heavy cover of leaves, to protect the roots from freezing
as well as to conserve moisture in the summer.

Supporting Honeysuckle Plants

If your Honeysuckle is to be grown on a trellis or an arbor, put this support structure in place before planting, to avoid damaging your vine. Then plant your Honeysuckle 6-12 in. away from the support to allow enough growing room for developing stems. The vines should be tied to their support using strong, stretchy materials that won’t cut into growing branches.
Strips of old nylon hosiery work very well for this.
Loop each tie into a figure 8, with the crossed portion between the stem and the support to keep stems from rubbing or being choked.

When your plant has finished blooming, you can cut and prune for shape.
Prune Honeysuckle vines back in the winter to increase flowering.
Only lightly prune plants until they are well established.
Do not over-fertilize Honeysuckle plants!
Beware of aphids…

Propagating Honeysuckle Plants and Growing them from Seed

Rooting honeysuckle cuttings is easy!
The best time to take cuttings is when new growth starts to appear in the spring,
although if there is green growth, you can do it indoors most anytime of the year.
Cut a length of green, softwood growth from the end of one (or several) of the vines, making sure to get several sets of leaves.
Strip the leaves from the end of the cutting nearest the cut end.
You should have one or two leaf nodes bare and one or two sets of leaves left on the vine.
At this point you have a couple of options…

One method is to dip the cutting in rooting hormone and place it in damp potting soil or other rooting medium.
The other method is to place the cutting in a vase of water and allow the roots to develope that way.
If you go with the water method, be sure to change the water regularly to prevent rot.
In about 1-2 weeks you’ll see the new roots beginning to grow. When you have several good roots an inch or so long you are ready to plant your new Honeysuckle vine in a pot or in the garden if there is no danger from frost.

Honeysuckle seeds can be sown directly in the garden in early spring or in the fall.

Varieties of Honeysuckle Vines

There are about 180 species species of Lonicera. Some are evergreen, while others are deciduous.
Some are vining plants while others grow as shrubs.
The hardiness zones of different Loniceras can vary considerably with different hybrid varieties as well. The general requirements and care for Honeysuckles are about the same, whether your plant is a vining type or a shrub variety.
Consult your local garden center to find the right plant to suit your needs and for your location.

Goldflame Honeysuckle, Lonicera heckrottii, is a deciduous vining plant that is hardy in zones 5-9. Grows 15-20 ft.
Produces fragrant flowers that are hot pink with yellow throats, from late spring through mid summer.
Dropmore Scarlet Honeysuckle, Lonicera brownii, is a deciduous vining plant that is hardy in zones 3-9. Grows to 12ft.
Produces fragrant, bright red flowers from late spring through mid-summer.
Trumpet Honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens is a semi-evergreen vine that is hardy in zones 4-10. Grows to 12ft.
Produces bright orange, red or yellow, tubular flowers from late spring to mid-summer.
Henry’s Honeysuckle, Lonicera henryi, is an evergreen vining plant that is hardy in zones 4-10. Can grow to 30ft.
Produces red or yellow, tubular flowers all spring and summer.
American Honeysuckle, Lonicera americana, is a deciduous vining plant that is hardy in zones 6-10. Grows to 25ft.
Produces strongly scented yellow flowers that are tinged with red, pink or purple from late spring through early fall.
Tatarian Honeysuckle, Lonicera tatarica, is a deciduous, shruby plant that is hardy in zones 3-9. Grows to 10ft h x w.
Produces fragrant, white, pink or red, trumpet shaped flowers in late spring and early summer.
no pix Winter Honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima, is a semi-evergreen shrub type plant that grows 8 feet tall wide.
Produces pairs of small, creamy white, very fragrant flowers in late winter through mid spring.
Hall’s or Japanese Honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica, is a deciduous vining plant that is hardy in zones 4-10. Excellent ground cover for erosion control, but can quickly become invasive if it is not kept in check by pruning it back hard in winter to prevent the build-up of woody growth. This variety should not be planted near shrubs or small trees, which it may climb and strangle. White flowers that fade to yellow in late summer into fall.

This climber is semi-evergreen, so it can lose some of its leaves in winter. In colder regions or more exposed gardens, it may lose them all, but then fresh new foliage appears again in spring.

  • Position: full sun or partial shade
  • Soil: fertile, humus-rich, moist, well-drained soil
  • Rate of growth: average
  • Flowering period: July to September
  • Hardiness: fully hardy

    This honeysuckle has a real wow factor, with long, trumpet-shaped, vivid scarlet flowers from July to September, followed in hot summers by small red berries. Although it is unscented (or with just a faint hint of perfume), the flower colour more than makes up for the lack of fragrance, and its handsome, semi-evergreen (or deciduous in colder winters) blue-green leaves provide valuable cover for a pergola or boundary wall. An unusual climber for a cottage-style garden.

  • Garden care: Cut back established plants after flowering, removing a third of the flowering shoots. Apply a generous 5-7cm (2-3in) mulch of well-rotted compost or manure around the base of the plant in early spring.

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