Leycesteria flowers

A small family of semi-hardy deciduous upright shrubs, with attractive pendulous flower clusters in summer. Its rich red berries are much loved by birds.

Family: Caprifoliaceae
Botanical Name: Leycesteria (les-e-ree-a)
Common Names: Pheasant berry, Himalayan honeysuckle, flowering nutmeg.

Foliage: Hollow, olive-green, upright stems. Deciduous, simple green leaves. The bare bamboo-like stems are attractive in winter.

Flowers: Pendant, tassel-like, pinkish white flowers, subtended by purplish-red bracts. Followed by dark red berries.

Flowering Period: July-August.

Soil: Moist but well-drained soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.

Conditions: Full sun or partial shade. Plant in a north, east, west or south facing aspect, in a sheltered position.

Habit: Bushy, upright.

Type: Shrub.

Origin: Himalayas.

Hardiness: Not fully hardy in UK.

Planting and Growing Leycesteria

Plant in autumn or spring in any reasonably fertile, moist but well drained soil, in sun or shade.

Drought tolerant once established.

Taking Care of Leycesteria

Water well in dry weather. Mulch in spring to maintain moisture.

Top growth is damaged easily by frost but new shoots grow readily from base.

Pruning Leycesteria

Remove dead growth killed by frost and cut out any damaged or weak shoots to ground level in spring. Old wood can also be thinned out after flowering has finished.

Pests and Diseases

Generally trouble free.

Propagating Leycesteria

Sow seed in spring under glass or increased from softwood cuttings. Semi-ripe cuttings can also be taken in October and over-wintered in a cold frame.

Popular Varieties of Leycesteria

Leycesteria formosa (pheasant berry) produces hollow, green, upright stems and pendant flowers in maroon and white in summer, followed by red-purple berries. Height to 5ft (1.5m), spread to 3ft (90cm). Cultivars include:

  • 'Golden Lanterns' (PBR) with attractive light green foliage and unusual clusters of Bluebell like, cream flowers that emerge from wine red bracts. Height and spread to 6ft (2m). For sale at Van Meuwen.
  • 'Purple Rain' is a more showy form with white flowers that emerge from long drooping burgundy bracts. For sale at Thompson & Morgan.