Give this native climber a chance

McClatchy-Tribune News ServiceMay 9, 2009 

If you wonder what native plants to put on your arbors or trellises, consider honeysuckle.

Not Japanese honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica. Japanese honeysuckle is a plant scourge.

Consider the coral honeysuckle, also called trumpet honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens. It is native throughout most of the United States and is even found in Canada. It is sold at nurseries yet has now crept up on some endangered lists.

This is the well-behaved honeysuckle that offers so much for the landscape and backyard wildlife habitat. Now, it can climb, but it usually grows no higher than 20 feet tall. That's a good height for an arbor or trellis. Going vertical adds so much to a garden, and the spread can make an impact without being the least bit rampant.

The trumpet-shaped blossoms of the coral honeysuckle are a real treat for ruby-throated hummingbirds as well as butterflies. The flowers produce fruit relished by birds like the cardinal and purple finch.

Coral honeysuckle can tolerate full sun but performs well in areas of afternoon shade. It also tolerates a variety of soils. Spring is a great planting season. Choose your site, your support structure, and dig the hole as if you were planting a holly or some other shrub. It is best if you loosen tight, heavy clay by working in 3 to 4 inches of organic matter.

Dig the hole about twice as wide as the rootball and about as deep as the plant is growing in the container. In other words, the top of the rootball should be even with the soil surface. After planting, apply a good layer of mulch. Allow about 36 inches between plants.

Good companion plants include coreopsis, shasta daisies or Victoria Blue salvia.

Typically the native coral honeysuckle is a fiery red to orange with yellow on the inside.

The coral honeysuckle's needs are minimal. Don't overfeed and do a little pruning after blooming.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service