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Ken Lin of Waters Garden Center in Prescott, Arizona, participated in Plant of the Week last Friday. Here is your breakdown on how to grow honeysuckle.

How to Grow, Ken Lane, Plant of the Week, The Mountain Gardener, Watters Garden Center, Honeysuckle

An excellent vine to use as a trellis, arbor and fencing cover. It also works well when pruned to form a dense shrub shape. Purple to deep pink buds open to beautifully scented, golden-yellow tubular flowers throughout the summer.

honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is a very vigorous perennial vine that is often evergreen during the winter. It is distinguished by its long flowering period and fragrant flowers that bloom throughout the summer and into the fall.

The honeysuckle vine is a climber that wraps thickly around any vertical structure, whether a trellis or tree. The vines bear fragrant white flowers, tinged with pink, that attract butterflies and hummingbirds from late spring into fall. The flowers gradually fade to yellow, and it is not uncommon to see white, pink and yellow all at the same time. The flowers give way to brambles. The vine is often grown because it does well in shady locations and in very dry soil.

Zoya life can be appreciated: Lonicera japonica
Common names: Japanese Honeysuckle, Golden and Silver Honeysuckle, Japanese Honeysuckle Herbs
Plant type: Perennial flowering vine
Mature size: 15-20 feet tall x 3-6 feet spread
Sun exposure: Full sun to part shade
Soil type: Prefers average, well-drained soil
Soil pH: 5.5 to 8
Bloom time: Late spring into fall
Flower colour: White, matures to yellow
Hardiness zones: 4 to 9 (USDA)
Original areas: East Asia including China, Japan and Korea

How to grow honeysuckle

Although Japanese honeysuckle prefers moist, clayey soil, these ideal conditions can cause the plant to grow too vigorously. It works well in dry and dusty conditions. Plant it in full sun to part shade. Shadier locations will reduce the amount of blooms and stunt plant growth.

When training on a trellis, a single plant is usually used. When growing it as a ground cover, use one plant per square yard of land. Ground cover plants should be mowed back with a lawn mower in late winter to control growth and remove any dead growth.

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This is an adaptable plant that does well in full sun or partial shade, but a shadier location is sometimes preferred to keep its growth under control.


Honeysuckle does well in any soil as long as it drains. Dry soil may limit the vine’s dense growth habit.

How to plant

1. Dig a hole 2-3 times the width of the container but the same depth.
2. Cut the sides and bottom of the root ball with a utility knife or shears and place it in the planting hole.
3. Mix Watters Premium mulch into the native soil at a ratio of one part mulch to two parts soil dug from the hole and pack firmly around the roots.
4. Sprinkle 7-4-4 All-Purpose Plant Food around the planting area.
5. Prevent “transplant shock” by adding Waters “Root and Grow” to the water in two-week cycles during the first two months.
6. Use the remainder of the Watters Mulch inside the tree as a top dressing. This will remove weeds, insulate the roots from heat and cold, and keep the roots moist.

How to water

Always water newly planted grass well after planting. Roots require plenty of moisture to recover from the stresses of transplanting. Failure to water pampas grass may stunt its growth.

Make sure to keep the soil uniformly moist. Push your finger one inch into the soil. If it feels moist, your grass is fine. However, if it is dry, it means that the roots are not getting the moisture they need.

How to feed showy honeysuckle

During the first year after planting, fertilize honeysuckle in early spring, summer and fall with a 7-4-4 all-purpose plant food. It may take up to 3 years for your baby honeysuckle to establish itself and bloom properly.

Propagation of honeysuckle

This plant is rarely propagated intentionally due to its aggressive growth habit. It is easily propagated by planting seeds from the berries or dividing parts of its spreading rootstock.

Varieties of honeysuckle

A variety of honeysuckle that is often grown for landscape purposes is ‘Halliana’, commonly called Hall’s honeysuckle.

Toxicity of Japanese honeysuckle

Many species of honeysuckle are toxic to one degree or another. This plant contains carotenoids found in berries and glycosides found in stems and vines. These substances are considered somewhat toxic, and symptoms can include stomach pain, diarrhea, irregular heartbeat, and vomiting. But the effects are usually mild and only occur when large amounts are taken. The plant attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, and many birds enjoy eating the berries.


The main pruning should be done in early winter after the flowers have fallen. Pruning usually aims to shorten the plant and keep its size under control. Plants grown as ground cover should be mowed in March using a mower at maximum height.

Alternative chrome

Other forms of honeysuckle offer some of the same benefits but without the dangerously bushy growth habit of honeysuckle. Some options include:

Honeysuckle Flame Gold (Lonicera hecroti) is a deciduous vine hardy in zones 5 to 9. It has fragrant flowers that grow to 15 to 20 feet tall and are hot pink with yellow throats, blooming from late spring through mid-summer.

Drop more scarlet honeysuckle (Lonicera brownie) Hardy in zones 3 to 9. It is a smaller vine, reaching 12 feet tall, that produces fragrant, bright red flowers from late spring through mid-summer.

Trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is a semi-evergreen vine that is hardy in zones 4 to 10. It grows up to 12 feet tall and has bright orange, red or yellow tubular flowers from late spring to mid-summer.

Honeysuckle Henry (Lonicera henry) is hardy in zones 4 to 10. It grows up to 30 feet tall and has red or yellow tubular flowers during spring and summer.

American honeysuckle (American honeysuckle) is hardy in zones 6 to 10 and grows to 25 feet. It has fragrant yellow flowers mixed with red, pink or purple from late spring to fall.

Honeysuckle in winter (The most fragrant honeysuckle) is a semi-evergreen shrub reaching 10 feet tall with a similar spread. It is hardy in zones 4 to 8. It has pairs of small, creamy white, fragrant flowers from late winter through mid-spring.

Common pests and diseases

Honeysuckle is largely free of severe insect and disease problems, as befits a vine that has a reputation for being very vigorous. Deer, rabbit, elk, and javelina all leave this beautiful plant alone.

This article was written by Ken Lin. He can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contact him through his website at or

Get more gardening tips from Watters Garden Center in the Mountain Gardener column on Signals A

Waters Garden Center, Open House, The Mountain Gardener, Ken Lane, Lisa Watters Lane,

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