- Coral Honeysuckle Info: How To Grow Coral Honeysuckle In The Garden
- Coral Honeysuckle Info
- Is Coral Honeysuckle Invasive?
- Coral Honeysuckle Care
- How to Plant, Grow and Care for Honeysuckle Plants
- Supporting Honeysuckle Plants
- Propagating Honeysuckle Plants and Growing them from Seed
- Varieties of Honeysuckle Vines
- Wildflower of the Year 2014 Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
- Lonicera Species, Coral Honeysuckle, Trumpet Honeysuckle
- Coral Honeysuckle Vine
Coral Honeysuckle Info: How To Grow Coral Honeysuckle In The Garden
Coral honeysuckle is a beautiful, less-than-fragrant, flowering vine native to the United States. It provides a great cover for trellises and fences that is the perfect alternative to its invasive, foreign cousins. Keep reading to learn more coral honeysuckle info, including coral honeysuckle care and how to grow coral honeysuckle plants.
Coral Honeysuckle Info
What is coral honeysuckle? Depending upon whom you ask, coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is hardy in everything from USDA zone 4 through 11. This means it can survive virtually anywhere in the continental United States. Coral honeysuckle is a twining vine that can reach 15 to 25 feet (4.5-7.5 m.) in length.
It produces attractive and fragrant trumpet-shaped flowers that grow in clusters. These flowers are 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm.) long and come in shades of red, yellow, and coral pink. They are especially attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. In the fall, these flowers give way to small red berries that will attract songbirds.
Is Coral Honeysuckle Invasive?
Honeysuckle gets a bad rap, and rightly so! Japanese honeysuckle is an especially invasive species in North America that is often planted without knowledge of how harmful it can be to local ecosystems. While that species should be avoided in the United States, coral honeysuckle is a native plant that has a place in the carefully balanced ecosystem. It is a good alternative to its dangerously invasive cousin.
Coral Honeysuckle Care
Growing coral honeysuckle vines is not difficult. The plant can grow in full sun to partial shade. Once established, it is very tolerant of both heat and drought. In very warm climates, the leaves are evergreen. In places with colder winters, the leaves will drop or some growth will die back.
Coral honeysuckle will grow as a vine up trellises or along fences, but it can also be used effectively as a creeping groundcover.
How to Plant, Grow and Care for Honeysuckle Plants
Honeysuckle plants are usually sold in 1-gal. containers beginning in early spring.
Honeysuckle can be planted in early spring, as soon as frost danger has passed.
Prepare the planting area as you would for any other perennial and set the plants a minimum of two to three apart and 6″-12″ away from any support structure. Plant them 2 feet apart if you are using them as a ground cover plant.
Water the plants thoroughly, and follow up with repeated soakings until the plant shows signs of new growth.
Mulch the plant with heavy cover of leaves, to protect the roots from freezing
as well as to conserve moisture in the summer.
Supporting Honeysuckle Plants
If your Honeysuckle is to be grown on a trellis or an arbor, put this support structure in place before planting, to avoid damaging your vine. Then plant your Honeysuckle 6-12 in. away from the support to allow enough growing room for developing stems. The vines should be tied to their support using strong, stretchy materials that won’t cut into growing branches.
Strips of old nylon hosiery work very well for this.
Loop each tie into a figure 8, with the crossed portion between the stem and the support to keep stems from rubbing or being choked.
When your plant has finished blooming, you can cut and prune for shape.
Prune Honeysuckle vines back in the winter to increase flowering.
Only lightly prune plants until they are well established.
Do not over-fertilize Honeysuckle plants!
Beware of aphids…
Propagating Honeysuckle Plants and Growing them from Seed
Rooting honeysuckle cuttings is easy!
The best time to take cuttings is when new growth starts to appear in the spring,
although if there is green growth, you can do it indoors most anytime of the year.
Cut a length of green, softwood growth from the end of one (or several) of the vines, making sure to get several sets of leaves.
Strip the leaves from the end of the cutting nearest the cut end.
You should have one or two leaf nodes bare and one or two sets of leaves left on the vine.
At this point you have a couple of options…
One method is to dip the cutting in rooting hormone and place it in damp potting soil or other rooting medium.
The other method is to place the cutting in a vase of water and allow the roots to develope that way.
If you go with the water method, be sure to change the water regularly to prevent rot.
In about 1-2 weeks you’ll see the new roots beginning to grow. When you have several good roots an inch or so long you are ready to plant your new Honeysuckle vine in a pot or in the garden if there is no danger from frost.
Honeysuckle seeds can be sown directly in the garden in early spring or in the fall.
Varieties of Honeysuckle Vines
There are about 180 species species of Lonicera. Some are evergreen, while others are deciduous.
Some are vining plants while others grow as shrubs.
The hardiness zones of different Loniceras can vary considerably with different hybrid varieties as well. The general requirements and care for Honeysuckles are about the same, whether your plant is a vining type or a shrub variety.
Consult your local garden center to find the right plant to suit your needs and for your location.
Wildflower of the Year 2014 Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
Coral honeysuckle is a twining woody vine, usually climbing on other vegetation but sometimes trailing along the ground; older stems have papery brown exfoliating bark. Leaves are opposite and simple, but highly variable within a single plant; early season leaves are linear and strap-like whereas later-developing leaves are oblong to elliptic or obovate, 3—8 cm long, with acute to rounded apices, cuneate to rounded bases, and entire margins, usually glabrous on both surfaces but sometimes minutely hairy below, green above, and glaucous-white below; petiole length varies by position on the stem—leaves of lower nodes may have petioles up to 1 cm long whereas leaves of upper nodes can be sessile, and often confluent/perfoliate directly below the flowers; often some leaves persist all winter long, but the degree of winter leaf retention varies by latitude and severity of winter. The inflorescence consists of 1—4 whorls of sessile flowers borne at stem tips; flowers are produced profusely from early to mid-spring, sporadically thereafter. Minute bracts and calyx lobes are found at the base of each flower; corollas are tubular, 2—5 cm long, with five nearly equal-sized lobes, red externally and frequently yellow internally (but sometimes all red, orange, or yellow); five yellow anthers are borne near the corolla throat (either slightly included or partially exserted); the globose stigma projects slightly beyond the anthers. The inferior ovary matures as a red or orange berry about 5mm in diameter.
The genus Lonicera commemorates, in Latinized form, Adam Lonitzer, a 16th C German herbalist; “sempervirens” means evergreen. There are about 180 species of Lonicera (honeysuckles) found mostly in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Nine species of Lonicera can be found growing wild in Virginia; only three of these, including the coral honeysuckle, are native while the other six are exotic escapes from cultivation, including the notoriously invasive Japanese honeysuckle (L. japonica) and Amur honeysuckle (L. maackii). Coral honeysuckle is easily distinguished from other honeysuckles in Virginia by the combination of climbing habit, glaucous evergreen leaves, terminal flower clusters, and red tubular corollas with nearly equal-sized lobes. The genus Lonicera is classified in Caprifoliaceae along with some other familiar shrubs such as Diervilla (bush honeysuckle) and Symphoricarpos (coralberry).
. . .Human Uses
Native American traditions include several uses for coral honeysuckle (mentioned here for historical rather than prescriptive purposes). Leaves, either dried and smoked or steeped in warm water as a tea, were used to treat asthma, sore throats, and coughs. Chewed leaves applied to bee stings alleviate swelling. Berries will induce nausea and/or vomiting in humans.
. . . In the Wild
Coral honeysuckle leaves and berries
Lonicera sempervirens inhabits a wide variety of forests and successional habitats. Coral honeysuckle is widely known for its ability to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. In fact, the combination of its bright red tubular flowers with abundant nectar and little floral odor typifies the usual pattern for hummingbird-pollinated species. The bright red fruits are also attractive to birds; consumption by Quail, Purple Finches, Goldfinches, Hermit Thrushes, and American Robins has been documented. Further, the plant is larval host to Spring Azure butterflies and Snowberry clearwing moths.
. . . In the Garden
Coral honeysuckle is an excellent garden plant. It prefers well-drained acid or near neutral soil. Full sun with supporting structure such as a fence or trellis will yield the best floral display; the plant can grow in shade, but fewer flowers will be seen. It tolerates clay, deer, and proximity to walnuts. If needed, pruning should follow the main flush of spring flowers, minimizing the risk of removing budded yet-to-flower stems. It is easily propagated by softwood cuttings taken in late spring or summer. To propagate by seed, fruit pulp should be removed, followed by three months of cold stratification. Several named cultivars exist, including cv ‘John Clayton,’ a yellow-flowered form honoring the colonial era botanist and author of the first manuscript flora of Virginia; these plants were discovered on the grounds of the Abingdon Episcopal Church in Gloucester Co., VA.
. . . Where to See It
In Virginia, coral honeysuckle is most frequently encountered in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont, less frequently in the Mountains. Lonicera sempervirens is native from Connecticut and New York to Florida, and west to eastern Texas and Oklahoma. It has spread, apparently from cultivation, in several states from Michigan to Missouri and Iowa, also in northern New England.
Lonicera sempervirens in Virginia – Map courtesy of Virginia Botanical Associates, Digital Atlas of the Flora of Virginia, vaplantatlas.org
. . . Conservation
The conservation status of Lonicera sempervirens is secure, although individual populations may be threatened by habitat alteration.
Gardeners should not collect coral honeysuckle in the wild and should be certain that all native plants purchased for home gardens are nursery-propagated, not wild-collected. For a list of retail sources of nursery-propagated plants and responsibly collected seeds,
Click here: VNPS Directory of Native Nurseries
Click here: For a PDF brochure of Coral Honeysuckle
Text by W. John Hayden
Illustration by Nicky Staunton
Color photos by W. John Hayden
Web format: Sue Dingwell
Lonicera Species, Coral Honeysuckle, Trumpet Honeysuckle
View this plant in a garden
Vines and Climbers
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
Sun to Partial Shade
Unknown – Tell us
12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
Where to Grow:
Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
Unknown – Tell us
Late Spring/Early Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Unknown – Tell us
Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
From herbaceous stem cuttings
Unknown – Tell us
This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:
Citrus Heights, California
Garden Grove, California
Wilmington, Delaware(2 reports)
Washington, District of Columbia
Altamonte Springs, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida(2 reports)
Keystone Heights, Florida
Lady Lake, Florida
New Port Richey, Florida
Orange City, Florida
Palm Bay, Florida
Palm Coast, Florida
Spring Hill, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Winter Springs, Florida
Saint George, Georgia
New Orleans, Louisiana
South Berwick, Maine
Valley Lee, Maryland
Hudson, New Hampshire
Bordentown, New Jersey
Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Frenchtown, New Jersey
Maplewood, New Jersey
Roswell, New Mexico
Brooklyn, New York(2 reports)
Elba, New York
Great Neck, New York
Bayboro, North Carolina
Cary, North Carolina
Clayton, North Carolina
Columbus, North Carolina
Hatteras, North Carolina
Pisgah Forest, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
Winston Salem, North Carolina
Florence, Oregon(2 reports)
Hope Valley, Rhode Island
Beaufort, South Carolina
Bluffton, South Carolina
Conway, South Carolina
Hardeeville, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Islandton, South Carolina
Lexington, South Carolina
Orangeburg, South Carolina
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Austin, Texas(4 reports)
De Leon, Texas
Dripping Springs, Texas
Houston, Texas(2 reports)
Liberty Hill, Texas
Port Neches, Texas
Royse City, Texas
San Antonio, Texas(2 reports)
Santa Fe, Texas
Wichita Falls, Texas
Coral honeysuckle is a native perennial vine that takes the drought with ease, though extra moisture is appreciated in long stretches without rain.
A non-aggressive usually evergreen trailer to 20 feet or more, it’s a good one to twine through chain link fences, trellises, or arbors.
Give it sun to part shade in any soil that’s fairly rich and well-drained. More sun will mean more flowers.
Coral honeysuckle gets rather woody, especially at the base, so you might consider some medium height perennial plantings in front of it to liven it up a bit.
Aside from its interesting leaves, the real show-stopper is the coral tubular flowers that attract hummingbird, butterflies and bees from March to June.
Deer: fairly resistant depending on the deer. They will eat the flowers. However, on a high trellis or arbor that they can’t reach, the pollinators and hummingbirds can dine without concern.
- Deer Resistant Plants
- Drought Resistant Plants
- Native Plants
Coral honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens), loved for its eye-popping clusters of pollinator-delighting blooms and its robust demeanor in the garden, is a favorite perennial vine for many Texas gardeners.
This vertical loveliness is native to East Texas, Florida, with a northward range up the east coast of the United States, but is also found in many other parts of the continental United States. Here in Central Texas (Austin, Zone 8b), Coral honeysuckle provides semi-evergreen color, punctuated by spring outbursts of gorgeous red blooms, with yellow interiors.
The bloom clusters remind me of a group of debutants, all in elegant, clingy red evening gowns, with an underneath peek-a-boo of yellow petticoats.
I’ve grown two of these vines in my garden. This one in full sun,
…and this one in a mostly shade spot.
A May shot of a shady spot with blooming Coral honeysuckle anchoring the garden. Aside from the bicycle, and (from left to right), grows Frostweed, Inland sea oats, and Turkscap. Some Spiderwort are still popping with purple blooms.
The bulk of blooming occurs mid-to-late spring. The flowers on my vines have bloomed as early as February, sometimes with continuous blooming into May. Peak bloom time occurs during March and April, with a sprinkling of blooms in early summer.
An excellent climber–perfect for a trellis, arbor, or fence–Coral honeysuckle flowers more in full sun.
In woodland areas, it clamors over the ground as well as up trees and rocks.
Pollinators of all stripes, sizes, and colors flock to the tubular founts of pollen and nectar:
Nectar stealing Honeybee at top of bloom, with native Green Metallic bee (Halictidae) on left, toward back of bloom cluster.
Nectaring Metallic Green bee.
Horsefly-like Carpenter bee (Xylocopa tabaniformis).
Honeybee coming in for a meal.
Hummingbirds are attracted to the blooms, though I’ve never seen any at my blooms. I suspect that there simply aren’t many (if any) hummers around during the peak bloom period in my garden as they don’t typically arrived back in Austin from Mexico and Central/South America. That said, the tubular red blooms certainly fit the profile of hummingbird attracting flowers.
Additionally, this honeysuckle is the host plant for a butterfly, Spring Azure, (Celastrina ladon), and a moth, Snowberry clearwing, Hemaris diffinis.
Springtime sees the biggest burst of blooming, but sporadic clusters occur in summer as well, usually after a tropical rain event.
The vine maintains a lush, green presence throughout the summer months, requiring minimal water during the dry and hot of summer. I irrigate in the hottest of the hot, during those months with nary a drop from the sky.
Coral honeysuckle is a water-wise addition to any garden.
I usually see the fruits of the Coral honeysuckle in summer and early autumn.
They must be yummy, because the fruits don’t last long on the vine. Various birds enjoy the fruits and foliage protection from honeysuckle; I’ve seen Mockingbirds, Carolina Wrens, and other birds seek refuge–and probably snacks–in both of my vines.
Nascent coral honeysuckle fruits.
As summer segues into autumn, Coral honeysuckle continues its solid green contribution to the garden.
During winter the vine can freeze completely if the freeze is hard and long enough.
There are usually a few token leaves remaining.
More often than not, the foliage simply thins a bit, with some strands lacking foliage and the vine maintaining the majority of its leaves.
As the days grow longer and the temperatures warm, whatever foliage which quit the vine during winter’s freezes, return–lush and full and ready for the new growing season.
New Coral honeysuckle growth is exuberant–to the point that the fresh limbs reach to the sky in unwieldy growth spurts, requiring occaisional tucking in and twining around so as not to clamor over other things in their paths.
Additionally, emerging foliage and stems blush burgundy, augmenting the brilliancy of the blooms.
The crowning glory of this honeysuckle vine are the masses of bloom clusters which follow new spring growth.
Coral honeysuckle prefers well-draining soil and can develop powdery mildew if its feet are damp and the arms and legs of the vine congested. That said, even in my clay soil and during the heaviest of flooding, I’ve never seen mildew on my leaves. I mulch new plants, with a refresher of either commercial mulch or shredded leaves, as needed. I water my vines, along with the gardens they’re a part of, during the dry of summer and prune bare strands when/if necessary.
I leave my vine as it is–a bit wild and wooly–so that birds can perch and hide, if someone scary (hawk, cat, gardener) comes near. Coral honeysuckle isn’t invasive, it just requires a ‘haircut’ from time-to-time. The oldest strands of vine are easily snapped off, making the work of pruning an easy task. If you prefer a very tidy garden vine, Coral honeysuckle might prove a little feral for your taste. But give it a chance: Coral honeysuckle’s beauty and hardiness make its mild rowdiness well worth the minimal shagginess.
My biggest complaint about Coral honeysuckle (and it’s not a complaint about the plant at all!) is that I don’t have enough room for more of these tough, pretty vines. Gardeners appreciate the stalwart nature and beautiful blooms and foliage of this vine, wildlife appreciate its contributions to their safety and diet.
The vine grows to the left of the Softleaf yucca.
Summer and Autumn:
Coral honeysuckle flanked by dormant Turkscap (right), Inland Sea Oats (bottom) and in-bloom bottle tree (left).
A water-wise, wildlife-friendly, and gardener-pleasing vine–you’ll be glad it grows in your garden!
Coral Honeysuckle Vine
HONEYSUCKLE, CORAL Lonicera sempervirens (lon-ISS-er-uh sem-per-VYE-rens)
Evergreen – Sun – Vine
Spacing 3 – 8 feet
HABIT: Climbing vine that needs support to start. Coral-red flowers all summer.
CULTURE: Grows well in any soil. Is drought tolerant but does better with irrigation, unless overwatered.
USES: Climbing vine for fences, walls, arbors, and decorative screens.
PROBLEMS: Few if any once established.
NOTES: Good plant for attracting hummingbirds. L. sempervirens Sulphurea is a beautiful yellow-flowering variety. Native eastern USA to Texas.
Q: We are losing our coral honeysuckle and don’t know what the problem is. This picture shows that the leaves are spotted on both sides and seem to be turning inside out. I guess it could be the heat or the full sun or both. When we planted them spring a year ago, they had a really hard time with the hot temps we had. This spring when they came back they were beautiful and stayed that way until the temps cranked up again. Just thought I’d see if you had any ideas. B.Davis
A: The only things that could causing this are not enough sun and/or too much water. Fix those if they are issues and spray the plants with Garrett Juice Plus and Bio Wash.
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