Lonicera (honeysuckle)

Lonicera halliana in flower

Honeysuckles are vigorous climbers that produce a mass of trailing leaves and stems covered with a profusion of white and yellow flowers from late spring onwards. The leaves are bright green oval shaped and the young twining stems turn a rich purplish red before becoming woody. The long flowering period gives a useful and attractive display and at other times the evergreen leaves will provide excellent all year round cover.

Honeysuckle is an easy to grow climber, requiring very little care and attention. Native to China, Japan and Korea, they are woodland plants that grow well in either full sun or partial shade but will do best with their roots in the shade and their leaves in the sunlight. Any good garden soil will do (clay, loam or sandy) but they prefer a moisture retentive well drained soil.

All forms of Lonicera japonica are good for attracting insects, butterflies, bees and birds into the garden.

Flowering Season

Flowers are produced on new growth, from late spring onwards. In a good summer flowers can be displayed from June to October.

Pruning Lonicera Climbers

Prune in early spring (March) to keep it under control. Thin out any old Woody stems to encourage new growth.

Propagating Lonicera

Can be increased by layering stems, taking semi-ripe cuttings or by sowing seed in the spring. Layering is the most successful method of propagation. To propagate honeysuckle by layering, take a low growing stem and make slit in it at the point where it touches the ground. Pin the split stem (with a piece of bent wire), into a mixture of sharp draining compost. Cover with a small stone to hold it down. Once rooted sever the cutting from the main plant and pot-on.

Note: Lonicera japonica is highly invasive in Australia, New Zealand, South America and parts of the USA.

Varieties of Climbing Lonicera

A wide selection of honeysuckles are available in the UK, including:

Lonicera japonica
Lonicera japonica 'halliana'
clusters of scented white
and yellow flowers
lonicera japonica

Lonicera japonica 'repens'
dark red buds opening to
pink and white flowers

lonicera japonica
Lonicera japonica
'Aureoreticulata'
leaves threaded with gold

Lonicera x tellmanniana is a deciduous honeysuckle with unusual colouring. Twining stems tipped with whorls of bright orange tubular flowers from late spring to midsummer. Available from Thompson & Morgan.

Lonicera 'Belgica' is an early Dutch variety of honeysuckle that produces sweet-smelling white flowers in May and June, followed by bright red berries. Height to 23ft (7m), spread to 3ft (1m). Available from Thompson & Morgan.