Plant ID

Honeysuckle Sunrise

One of my goals for this website is to keep a record of different plants that are growing in my yard, around town, and beyond, which is why I’m making today’s post the first in my Plant Identification Series!

Honeysuckle (Lonicera)

Honeysuckle (1)

Honeysuckles typically come as either vines or shrubs, but today I’m going to focus on the vine version that is currently thriving in my backyard. The one featured here lives on my east facing fence and is just now starting to burst into bloom in late April, and will hopefully keep blooming through mid-summer. We have had an unusually warm late winter/early spring, so that may have something to do with it being so happy right now.

The hummingbirds absolutely love it, and the delicate cream to deep pink hues of its trumpet-shaped flowers remind me of a sunrise. I was used to seeing the creamy yellow version (you know the kind that’s usually left to become a tangled menace on roadsides and creek walks), and had no idea it could come in such feminine colors.

Growing Info

Zones
Zone 14 according to the Sunset Western Garden Book
Zone 9b according to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Appearance/Growth Habit
Evergreen in Sonoma County. Medium green foliage grows from purplish-brown branches and can reach incredible heights (10-20 feet) if left unattended. The blooms range from white or yellow, to vibrant reds, and mixtures of pinks and peaches. I’m guessing this is a Lonicera Americana because the buds start out a lovely rose pink, open up creamy, and then fade to yellow.

Honeysuckle (3)

Scent & Taste
It’s easy to compare different things to the smell of honeysuckle, but defining it in itself is proving much harder. It’s sweet and spicy and utterly distinct, at least to me.

While I used to love pulling off the buds and sucking out the honey from the common white kind, this one doesn’t have any taste.

Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade

Water
Good drainage. The books will typically tell you that they need moderate to regular water, but I’ve found this one to be fairly drought tolerant. It does have a nice 2″ layer of mulch around it to help retain water in the summer, but I only find myself watering it once every week or two.

Feeding
They don’t like a lot of fertilizer, but I do work a little compost into the soil in the spring.

Pruning
Honeysuckles like to be pruned after their blooming season, which also helps keep them from taking over the world.

The first year I had it I didn’t prune it at all, and the next year’s blooms weren’t very good. In July I pruned it down to about a foot off the ground, and today it has recovered with a renewed zest for life and bountiful flowers just in time for spring!

Pests
Aphids like to attack the tender new growth as it emerges in early spring. I use a hose with a spray nozzle and to clear them off, or a mixture of soapy water. If they are left untreated they’ll exude a sticky honeydew that turns black,  inhibiting the plant’s sunshine harvesting abilities. This happened to mine last year, but it bounced back healthy after a good pruning.

Interesting Tidbits
Honeysuckle stands as a symbol of generous and devoted affection.

Honeysuckle (2)

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