Create Your Garden

Choosing and Growing Non Invasive Honeysuckle Vines

When opting for honeysuckle, prioritize native or well-behaved varieties over invasives

Honeysuckle, Lonicera

Honeysuckle, or Lonicera, is a classic garden favorite, cherished for its fragrant, colorful flowers and ability to attract wildlife.

Lonicera is a genus of flowering plants encompassing around 180 species of deciduous and evergreen shrubs and vines native to various regions, including North America, Europe, and Asia. With a captivating range of flower colors—from whites, yellows, and oranges to pinks and reds—honeysuckle is as versatile as it is attractive. Known for its sweet fragrance, especially during evenings and nights, the flowers can be a sensory delight.

The habit of these plants varies depending on the species, but most are twining vines that wrap around trellises, fences, or other supports, while some species grow as upright shrubs.

Not all Lonicera species are created equal. Some are invasive, some are native, and some are just well-behaved hybrids or imports.

Invasive Honeysuckle Vines

Invasive honeysuckle species can pose a significant ecological problem by outcompeting native vegetation, disrupting local ecosystems, and creating a monoculture that leads to reduced biodiversity. 

Which Honeysuckle Plants are invasive?

  • Lonicera japonica (Japanese Honeysuckle): This highly invasive vine is known for its rapid growth and ability to smother native vegetation. It has fragrant white and yellow flowers.
  • Lonicera maackii (Amur Honeysuckle): Another invasive species, Amur honeysuckle forms dense thickets and leafs out early, shading out native plants. Birds spread its red berries.
  • Lonicera tatarica (Tartarian Honeysuckle): This shrub species is native to Eurasia and has become invasive in North America. It produces showy pink to white flowers and red berries.
  • Lonicera morrowii (Morrow’s Honeysuckle): Originally from Asia, this invasive shrub also crowds out native vegetation and produces fragrant white to yellow flowers followed by red berries.
  • Lonicera fragrantissima (Winter Honeysuckle): While not as aggressive as some other invasive Lonicera species, Winter Honeysuckle can become invasive in certain areas. It produces fragrant white flowers in late winter or early spring and is known for its strong scent.

Ecological Impact of Planting Invasive Honeysuckle

  • Competition: Invasive honeysuckle outcompetes native plants for sunlight, water, and nutrients.
  • Ecosystem Disruption: It can also disrupt local ecosystems by altering soil chemistry and preventing native plant seedlings from establishing.
  • Wildlife: While some birds and animals eat the berries, these often lack the nutritional value of native plant foods, potentially affecting animal health and migration patterns.

 

US Native Honeysuckle Vines and Varieties

Native honeysuckle species offer significant advantages. They’re generally well-adapted to local soil and climatic conditions, making them easier to care for. They also coexist more harmoniously with local fauna, offering nectar and sometimes berries for native species of birds and insects. Planting native honeysuckle is a win-win, both for you and the environment.

Guide Information

Hardiness 4 - 10
Plant Type Climbers, Shrubs
Genus Lonicera
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 3' - 30'
(90cm - 9.1m)
Spread 3' - 30'
(90cm - 9.1m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Alkaline, Neutral, Acid
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut, Midwest, Southeast, Pacific Northwest, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, Northeast, Alaska, California, Iowa, Kansas, Indiana, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Montana
Tolerance Deer
Attracts Bees, Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Birds
Landscaping Ideas Patio And Containers, Wall-Side Borders, Arbors, Pergolas, Trellises, Beds And Borders, Walls And Fences
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Coastal Garden, Informal and Cottage, Traditional Garden

 

Popular Well-Behaved Honeysuckle Varieties

Well-behaved honeysuckle varieties are a great choice for gardeners looking to enjoy the beauty and fragrance of these plants without the ecological concerns associated with some species.

Landscaping with Honeysuckle

Landscaping with honeysuckle offers a myriad of opportunities for creating inviting, aromatic, and visually pleasing outdoor spaces. Whether you’re working with a sprawling garden or a compact urban balcony, here are some ways to incorporate honeysuckle into your landscape design:

Focal Points

  • Entranceways: Plant honeysuckle around gates or arches to make a fragrant and welcoming entrance.
  • Pergolas and Gazebos: Utilize the climbing nature of honeysuckle to add natural beauty to pergolas, gazebos, or other overhead structures.

Vertical Spaces

  • Walls and Fences: Honeysuckle vines can cover walls and fences, adding both greenery and bursts of color.
  • Trellises: A honeysuckle vine on a trellis can serve as a standalone focal point or as part of a flowerbed.

Ground Cover

  • Banks and Slopes: Low-growing honeysuckle varieties can be effective ground covers that help control erosion on sloped areas.
  • Borders: Use honeysuckle to edge pathways or flowerbeds.

Containers

  • Pots and Planters: Compact honeysuckle varieties can thrive in containers, offering flexibility for those with limited space.
  • Hanging Baskets: Some varieties can also be grown in hanging baskets, cascading down to add vertical interest.

Wildlife Attraction

  • Pollinator Garden: Honeysuckle attracts various pollinators, making it an excellent addition to a pollinator garden.
  • Bird-Friendly: The berries of some honeysuckle species can attract birds, adding another layer of life to your garden.

Companion Planting

  • Mixed Planting: Pair honeysuckle with other perennial plants that offer different blooming periods for a season-long display.
  • Herb Gardens: Incorporate honeysuckle as a backdrop in herb gardens where its sweet fragrance can complement aromatic herbs.

Practical Uses

  • Privacy Screen: A dense honeysuckle vine can act as a natural privacy screen.
  • Noise Barrier: Its thick foliage can also serve as a moderate noise barrier.

Honeysuckle Dropmore Scarlet, Lonicera Dropmore ScarletLonicera x brownii ‘Dropmore Scarlet’

Companion Plants for Honeysuckle

Companion plants for honeysuckle can vary depending on your specific goals, such as attracting pollinators, creating a certain aesthetic, or fulfilling practical needs like shade or soil improvement. Here are some suggestions:

Clematis: These vines enjoy similar growing conditions and can intertwine beautifully with honeysuckle. Their large, showy flowers provide a nice contrast.

Rose: Particularly climbing roses, can make a stunning combination with honeysuckle, both aesthetically and aromatically.

Salvia: Particularly the blue or purple varieties, offer a nice color contrast and attract even more pollinators.

Hosta: These shade-loving plants can be placed under the honeysuckle vine, providing an interesting texture contrast with their large leaves.

Fern: Also good for filling in the area under a honeysuckle vine, ferns can thrive in the partial shade provided by the honeysuckle.

Lavender: This fragrant herb can pair well with certain types of honeysuckle, offering both color and scent contrasts.

Echinacea (Coneflower): These can attract pollinators and provide a strong visual contrast, particularly with red or coral honeysuckle.

Daylilies: These are easy to grow and their showy flowers can complement those of the honeysuckle.

Sedum: Low-growing sedums can provide ground cover below a honeysuckle vine, preventing weeds and adding interest at lower levels.

Daffodils: Early spring bloomers like daffodils offer a burst of color before many honeysuckle varieties start flowering.

Asters: Late-season flowers like asters can take over the show when honeysuckle blooms start to fade.

Remember to take into consideration factors like soil type, sunlight, and watering needs when choosing companion plants. Also, make sure the plants you choose are compatible in terms of growth habit so that one doesn’t overpower the other.

 

Clematis
Salvia (Sage)
Rosa (Rose)
Lavandula angustifolia (English Lavender)
Hosta (Plantain Lily)
Echinacea (Coneflower)
Hemerocallis (Daylilies)
Sedum (Stonecrop)
Aster novi-belgii (New York Aster)
Aster novae-angliae (New England Aster)
Narcissi (Daffodils)
Tulips

Growing Tips

Growing honeysuckle in your garden is generally straightforward, but success hinges on providing the right conditions and care. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Choosing the Right Variety

  • Consult Local Guidelines: Some honeysuckle species can be invasive. Always consult local gardening guides or experts to select a variety appropriate for your area.
  • Match Conditions: Different honeysuckle species have varying light and soil requirements. Choose a species that suits your garden’s conditions.

Planting

  • Site Selection: Honeysuckle typically prefers a sunny location but can tolerate partial shade. Some species, particularly those native to woodland areas, may prefer more shaded conditions.
  • Soil Preparation: Although honeysuckle is tolerant of a range of soil types, it prefers well-drained soil. You can improve soil drainage and fertility by adding organic matter like compost.
  • Planting Time: The best times to plant honeysuckle are in the spring or fall.
  • Spacing: Keep 5 to 10 feet (1.5-3 meters) between each honeysuckle plant, depending on the species’ expected mature size.
  • Planting Depth: The hole should be just deep enough so that the plant sits at the same level as it did in its container.

Watering

  • Initial Watering: Water thoroughly after planting.
  • Ongoing Care: While established honeysuckle is relatively drought-tolerant, young plants and those in containers will need regular watering.

Fertilizing

  • Initial Feeding: You can add a slow-release, balanced fertilizer at the time of planting.
  • Regular Feeding: Apply a balanced fertilizer in the spring and then again in mid-summer for established plants.

Mulching

  • Apply Mulch: A 2 to 3-inch (5-7 cm) layer of organic mulch can help retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Pruning

  • Timing: Late winter or early spring is generally the best time for pruning. Some varieties may also benefit from light pruning after flowering.
  • Method: Remove any dead or diseased branches, and thin out as necessary to improve air circulation.

Pests and Diseases

  • Pests: Aphids, scale insects and powdery mildew can occasionally be a problem. Use insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils for aphids and fungicides for powdery mildew.
  • Disease: Leaf blight and rust can affect honeysuckle but are generally less of a concern if you’ve planted in well-drained soil and practice proper spacing for air circulation.

Additional Tips

  • Support: For climbing varieties, make sure to provide a trellis, fence, or other structure for the plant to climb.
  • Wildlife: Be mindful that honeysuckle berries may be toxic to humans but are often enjoyed by birds.

With these guidelines in mind, you’ll be well-equipped to grow and enjoy honeysuckle in your garden.

More on Gardenia

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 4 - 10
Plant Type Climbers, Shrubs
Genus Lonicera
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 3' - 30'
(90cm - 9.1m)
Spread 3' - 30'
(90cm - 9.1m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Alkaline, Neutral, Acid
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut, Midwest, Southeast, Pacific Northwest, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, Northeast, Alaska, California, Iowa, Kansas, Indiana, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Montana
Tolerance Deer
Attracts Bees, Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Birds
Landscaping Ideas Patio And Containers, Wall-Side Borders, Arbors, Pergolas, Trellises, Beds And Borders, Walls And Fences
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Coastal Garden, Informal and Cottage, Traditional Garden
Compare All Lonicera (Honeysuckle)
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