Four Tips for Growing Honeysuckle Vine


Honeysuckle vines make excellent song lyrics plus they make outstanding garden vines.

The vining variety is only one of approximately 180 species of Lonicera and who's cousins are well respected garden shrubs.

Honeysuckle Rule


As a rule of thumb, these vines all grow well in sun to part shade. You'll get the best results if you can grow their roots in the shade and the tops in the sun (at the very least, mulch them). They appreciate decent garden soil with good drainage but will survive in almost anything except a heavy clay.

Toss a few shovels of compost on them in the spring to keep them happy.

If you overfeed them by using chemical fertilizers, they will grow great foliage but sparse bloom. The foliage comes at the expense of the flowers.

honeysuckle

Honeysuckle Image courtesy Stan Shebs

Ventilation


They are prone to mildews so good ventilation will help prevent this.

They also tend to be infested with aphids and while some are worse than others, the rule of thumb is to keep the garden hose handy when you plant a honeysuckle vine. You'll need a strong jet of water to knock the aphids off.

Hardiest Variety


The hardiest vine honeysuckle is Lonicera x brownii which are hybrids between L. sempervirens and L. hirsuta. It is an old cross, appearing in gardens somewhere in the 1850's.

Biggest Problem


It is aphid candy and if you have one of these plants, you have aphids. You'll see them congregate at the tender growing tips. Spray with a strong jet of water to knock them off and do it regularly. Beetles and other predators will eat the aphids when the hit the ground but the plant is such a favourite food that you'll never be able to grow them free of this pest. One of the best known varieties is 'Dropmore Scarlet' bred in Dropmore, Manitoba, Canada.

Other Varieties


Lonicera x heckrottii or Goldflame Honeysuckle is another hybrid although the parentage of this plant is open to question. Another older variety, introduced in the 1890's it is an excellent garden vine surviving into USDA zone 4 (but a warm 4 for best results). The flowers are reddish and as they open, they expose the gold yellow of the inner corolla. Excellent colouring. Again, this plant is prone to aphids.

Lonicera japonica or Japanese Honeysuckle is a vigorous, twining vine that never met a trellis it didn't like. It can easily reach 30 feet in height in protected areas. It will often die to the ground in zone 4 and it's evergreen nature only starts to come into play in a warm 5 or even a zone 6. It is an extremely heavy flowering vine in early summer and can self-sow with abandon in warmer areas. The variety 'Aureo-reticulata' has yellow netted markings on the leaf and is an interesting cultivar.

I have this in my own garden and treat it as a semi-ground cover plant cutting it back heavily every year to contain it to a small area.

'Halliana is another variety that is commonly found in garden centers and it is favoured because the masses of white flowers are fragrant and the growth is vigorous. Although it is rated as a zone 4 plant, I have never been able to get this one through a winter. (I must not be holding my mouth right when I plant it.)

Lonicera sempervirens or Trumpet Honeysuckle is a harder plant to find in garden centres but in warmer areas it can turn into a very vigorous plant capable of hitting 20 feet in a single bound. The new foliage is purplish tinged changing to the handsome summer blue-green. The flowers are scarlet-red with yellowish throats but they are not fragrant.

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You'll often see the varieties sold with only these common names: 'Magnifica' has bright red flowers. 'Sulphurea' has yellow flowers (I've killed this one a few times), while 'Superba' has an orange with scarlet blossoms.



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