Winter Honeysuckle (Shrubby Lonicera)

Winter Honeysuckle Flowers

The winter flowering shrubby varieties of Lonicera are a welcome treat in the winter garden. These bushy deciduous or semi-evergreen shrubs have ovate leaves and sweetly fragrant, dainty flowers in late winder.

Family: Caprifoliaceae
Botanical Name: Lonicera
Common Names: Shrubby Lonicera, winter-flowering honeysuckle, sweetest honeysuckle

Foliage: Deciduous or semi-evergreen oval shaped mid-green leaves.

Flowers: sweetly fragrant delicate white flowers, sometimes followed by red berries.

Flowering Period: Late winter to early spring.

Soil: Any fertile moist but well-drained garden soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Any pH.

Conditions: Sun or partial shade. Can be grown in a south, east or west-facing aspect, in a sheltered or exposed location.

Habit: Bushy.

Type: Shrub.

Origin: China.

Hardiness: Hardy in most regions of the UK (down to - 20°C).

Planting and Growing Winter Honeysuckle

Grow in well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade. Flowers will be produced more profusely in full sun.

An ideal plant for a container near a window or doorway, where its scent can be appreciated on cold winter evenings.

Grow against a protective sunny wall for the best display of flowers. The green foliage is rather dull throughout the rest of the season so can be used as a backdrop for later flowering plants.

Taking Care of Winter Honeysuckle

Water thoroughly during dry weather until well established. Mulch with organic matter in spring and apply a general fertilizer suitable for shrubs.

Pruning Winter Honeysuckle

Prune immediately after flowering has finished. Cut out up to a quarter of old stems and cut back remaining stems that have flowered to a strong bud. Annual pruning helps to encourage strong, healthy shoots and improve flowering.

Pests and Diseases

Generally pest free but may be affected by aphids and thrips.

Can be affected by powdery mildews in dry soils.

Propagating Winter Honeysuckle

Take greenwood cuttings in summer or hardwood cuttings in autumn.

Popular Varieties of Winter Honeysuckle Grown in the UK

Three of the most popular forms include:

Lonicera fragrantissima, a bushy deciduous shrub with pairs of highly fragrant, dual-lipped, cream flowers in winter and early spring. Height and spread to 6ft (2m).

Lonicera x purpusii, a deciduous or semi-evergreen bushy shrub. Sweetly fragrant white flowers are borne in January-February, on bare stems before the leaves appear. Height 6ft (2m), spread 8ft (2.5m).

Lonicera standishii, a deciduous to semi-evergreen bushy shrub with ovate leaves and bristly stems. Mature plants often have attractive peeling bark. More compact in habit than L. fragrantissima. Scented, white-cream flowers, often tinged pink, appear from November to March on bare stems. Red berries are produced in early summer. Height and spread to 8ft (2.5m).