Garden plant of the moment: Honeysuckle

Garden plant of the moment: Honeysuckle

With its gorgeous tangles of stems and fragrant flowers tumbling over sunny walls in summer, honeysuckle is the classic cottage garden plant. But there’s more to honeysuckle than you might imagine. There are scented and unscented honeysuckles, shrubby honeysuckles and even honeysuckles that flower in the depths of winter. One thing’s for certain, there’s honeysuckle for every garden.


Climbing and shrubby honeysuckles

Honeysuckles fall into two groups – climbing and shrubby honeysuckles. In North America, the long, tubular flowers are often pollinated by hummingbirds, so these plants tend to have brightly coloured but unscented flowers. Here in the UK, long-tongued butterflies and moths do the job of pollination (although bees will sometimes burrow sneakily through the base of the flowers to steal nectar), hence our native honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum produces flowers that are paler but with a gorgeous heady scent to attract insects.

Shrubby honeysuckles include Lonicera nitida, a dense, evergreen shrub that’s an excellent alternative to box hedging for gardens plagued by box moth caterpillars. Winter-flowering honeysuckles Lonicera fragrantissima and Lonicera x purpusii are also shrubs, blending into the background in summer but producing amazingly sweet-scented flowers in late winter.


Caring for honeysuckles

Climbing honeysuckles are woodland plants, so are happiest with their roots in shade and their stems climbing into the sun. They grow well in humus-rich, well-drained soil. Shrubby honeysuckles will grow in sun or partial shade, with the winter-flowering varieties preferring a sheltered spot.

All honeysuckles appreciate being mulched with organic material such as compost and fed with a general fertiliser in spring. Powdery mildew can be a problem for honeysuckles in summer, especially if they are stressed by lack of water, but mulching will help by reducing water loss from the soil.


How to prune honeysuckle

Summer-flowering climbing honeysuckles don’t need regular pruning – simply cut back over-long shoots in spring. Cut early-flowering climbing honeysuckles back by one-third after flowering.

Prune winter-flowering shrubby honeysuckles after flowering, removing old or weak stems and shortening one in every three older branches.

Trim evergreen shrubby honeysuckles every 2-3 months from spring to autumn to keep them looking neat and tidy.


Scented honeysuckles

  • Lonicera periclymenum ‘Graham Thomas’ – a late summer-flowering, deciduous variety with fantastically fragrant creamy yellow flowers
  • Lonicera periclymenum Serotina – another deciduous honeysuckle with scented purple and white flowers.
  • Lonicera fragrantissima – a winter-flowering shrubby variety that does best against a sheltered sunny wall.
  • Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ AGM – slightly tougher than L. fragrantissima, with equally delectably-scented flowers in winter.

Evergreen climbing honeysuckles

  • Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’ – a vigorous climber with masses of yellow and white flowers from late spring to late summer

Honeysuckles for hedging

  • Lonicera nitida ‘Baggesen’s Gold’ – the pale gold evergreen leaves make a striking hedge, taking on a bronze tone in winter


Whether you’re looking for colourful flowers, gorgeous scent or evergreen leaves, there’s honeysuckle to suit your needs. Pop into our garden centre to see what’s in stock now.

You might also be interested in:

Home trends: sustainability in interior design

It’s important to consider sustainability in interior design, as we all become far more aware of our environment and the need to live a life where we are responsible for everything we do that impacts our planet. This extends to inside the home as well as our gardens and outside spaces. When we design and decorate it is very important to think about all aspects inside our home and not just that it needs to be aesthetically pleasing but also good for the environment. Think about implementing the below into your interior design projects and you will be putting sustainability at the fore of your home. 

How to encourage late summer flowers?

It is easy to encourage late summer flowers for as long as possible, all year round, and whilst it can be a little more tricky during the cold winter months, there are definitely ways to extend the flowering season in your garden to as late in the year as possible. We’ve put together these ideas to help you encourage those last summer flowers to enjoy for as long as you can. 

Top vegetable growing tips for July

 ‘In July the sun is hot / Is it shining / No, it’s not!’ As musical comedy duo Flanders and Swann pointed out back in the sixties, the weather in July can be chancy, but nevertheless, it’s a great month for gardeners. The days are long, and you can start to really enjoy the fruits of your labours in the veg patch. To make this year your best harvest ever, here are a few tips on what to do now, as well as how to get the better of plant pests and diseases.

Garden plant of the moment: Anemone

Late in summer, as other flowers start to fade, Japanese anemones come into their own. With their elegant sculpted flowers on long graceful stems and their bold maple-like leaves, they’re an unmissable presence in the border well into autumn. Happiest in partial shade, they’re ideal for brightening up dull spots in the garden, and once they’re settled they’ll spread and come back year after year. Here’s how to make sure your Japanese anemones grow and flourish.