Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Back to the Honeysuckles

I thought I was over honeysuckles. I fell in love with one in Hawaii where it grew up around my mailbox and threw its sweet perfume around the garden. When I moved back to the Northwest, I planted more loniceras, because their flowers’ sweet fragrance remind me of my old tropical beach home.

I’ve grown a few monster vines since then. Lonicera henryi was one that threatened to tear down a mailbox arbor as it stacked its 30-foot length on top of itself. The evergreen vine looked like a shrub on top of the arbor above the mailboxes. When the vine covered itself in its tiny flowers the bees were all over it, which terrorized the mail-person when she came to deliver the mail. (She is allergic to bee stings.) She is relieved now that the vine is gone.

Another variegated honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica 'Aureo Reticulata') almost swallowed a large, established rhododendron whole. The evergreen shrub is finally recovering after the twining beast was removed a few years ago. This is a typical size-denial, wrong-plant-wrong-place syndrome every gardener faces and eventually recovers. Apparently, I haven’t developed an immunity yet.

Two new honeysuckles in the trade are making me rethink my abstinence from growing these vines. The introductions, with typical fragrant flowers are smaller than the monsters I removed and you can find them in our local nurseries this year.

The tropical looking flowers from peaches and cream honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum ‘Inov86’) are larger pink and white bi-color flowers that bloom throughout the summer. Evergreen foliage, mildew resistant, and compact to eight-foot tall, makes it a fine specimen for a full sun garden in the Northwest!

'Mint Crisp'
I love the creamy, light green leaves and dark green speckles of this semi-evergreen, variegated honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica ‘Mint Crisp’). The foliage picks up tinges of pink in winter. With an added bonus of a long flowering period between June and October, this ten-foot vine grows best in light-dappled to part shade conditions in the garden.

The two loniceras will drive your hummingbirds crazy. And if I’m lucky, cure me of size denial!


  1. I love honeysuckles! The speckled leaves of the yellow one are lovely.

    1. I agree. The leaves are what make it wonderful, the flowers are typical L. japonica white flowers that age to yellow.

  2. I bet they both smell great! I think I prefer the pink one. I like the bi-color of the petals and the yellow anthers.

    1. I have a similar one with the pink flowers, but this one is more compact. The flowers are really nice. And I did a smell test on these and they are both great.


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