How to care              for honeysuckle

How to care              for honeysuckle

Most of us think of honeysuckles as twining climbers with pretty, scented tubular flowers, perfect for covering walls, fences and pergolas.

But there are also evergreen, shrubby types that make an excellent honeysuckle bush, hedging or topiary. Both belong to the genus Lonicera and there are many different cultivars, hailing from Europe, Asia, the Mediterranean and North America. Lonicera periclymenum (wild honeysuckle, common honeysuckle or woodbine) is native to the UK.

Climbing honeysuckles flower in summer, in shades of white, cream, lemon yellow, pink, orange and raspberry red. They’re perfect plants for an informal look or a cottage garden and look good combined with roses for a romantic look. They are also a magnet for wildlife.

The scent of their nectar-rich flowers attracts bees and butterflies in the day and moths at night – their colour changes slightly once pollinated. The red berries that follow are enjoyed by birds (but are poisonous to humans).

Climbing honeysuckles can be deciduous, semi-evergreen or evergreen, depending on the variety. Deciduous species tend to have a more spectacular display of flowers; the evergreen honeysuckle types bear smaller, less significant blooms but give foliage cover all year round.

Shrubby honeysuckles can be deciduous or evergreen. Evergreen types such as Lonicera nitida (now renamed as Lonicera ligustrina var. yunnanensis) have small leaves that are similar to those of box, and are often used to create a honeysuckle bush, hedge or even topiary.

How to grow honeysuckle Grow climbing honeysuckles in moist but well-drained soil in partial shade, ideally with the roots in shade but the stems in sun, such as at the base of a west-facing wall or fence. Give them a sturdy frame to climb up, such as a trellis or wire frame.

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