Lonicera sp. (Honeysuckle)

Zone: 4 to 9

Soil: Sand to loam

Light: Full sun to part shade

Bloom colour: Red, pink and white

Bloom period: May to September

Height: Up to 10 feet

Moisture: Dry to medium

Attracts: Hummingbirds and queen bumblebees

Notes: Most honeysuckles planted in gardens are vines. Avoid buying a species from outside North America such as Japanese honeysuckle because they are highly invasive. The best thing about these vines is the long flowering season. Once a hummingbird finds this plant, it will remember its location and return on a regular basis to feed from it. These plants also produce berries that are enjoyed by other birds.

The vines shown here are selections of Lonicera sempervirens, a North American native. It is not native to Canada. They need support with a trellis and will grow in a well drained and sunny location.

Honeysuckles are often attacked by aphids in the spring. Instead of using pesticide, it is preferable to let goldfinches clean them up. These birds supplement their seed diet with insects. If you do not have finches available, ladybirds or lacewings will eventually come in and bring the aphid population under control. Flowering will resume soon after this has occurred.

For gardeners from Eastern Canada, who want to plant a truly native species, Canada fly honeysuckle, Lonicera canadensis, is recommended. As shown in the picture, it is not particularly floriferous, but if you have a small shady spot that needs filling, then this plant is perfect. It flowers early in Southern Ontario before the hummingbirds arrive and it is popular with queen bumblebees. This shrub sprawls and should be supported with a cane. It produces pairs of small yellow flowers. After fertilisation, the berries that form on each flower fuse together at the base. This plant grows up to about 4 feet in height and the leaves remain in good condition throughout the growing season.

Two other native species are worth mentioning. Lonicera dioica and Lonicera hirsuta are both vines that often grow 3 - 4 feet high but could reach over 10 feet. Lonicera dioica blooms in late spring and Lonicera hirsuta blooms a few weeks later. The latter has larger flowerheads and requires regular watering. The former has flowerheads that are more orange or red and grows in drier environments. A well drained soil is recommended for both plants.

Lonicera sp.
Hummingbird at Lonicera sempervivens 'Major Wheeler'
Hummingbird at Lonicera sempervivens 'Major Wheeler'
Lonicera canadensis
Canada fly honeysuckle - Lonicera canadensis
Lonicera canadensis flowers
Pendulant flowers of Canada fly honeysuckle
Berries of Lonicera canadensis
Red berries on Canada fly honeysuckle
Lonicera hirsuta
Lonicera hirsuta  
Lonicera sempervirens
The striking long tubular flowers of coral honeysuckle 'Major Wheeler' are a hummingbird favourite