Beautiful Name, Fabulous Fragrance

Senior horticulturist at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens Steve Huddleston talked about winter honeysuckle a couple of weeks ago on my radio program.

I enjoy sitting back and hearing Steve roll off the scientific names during his Botanic Garden reports, and this one is the best: Lonicera fragrantissima. Not only is it melodic, but it pretty much says it all. This plant has an intoxicating aroma.

Winter honeysuckle shares the stage with much showier flowering quince. But it’s the honeysuckle that perfumes the entire block.

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The facts you’ll want to know…
Here are the short and quick details of this plant that you’ll need to keep in mind if you decide to add it to your own personal collection:

Winter honeysuckle…
Is a shrub, not a vine. Fact is, many types of honeysuckles are actually shrubs.
Grows to 4 to 6 ft. tall and wide.
Does very well in part shade to part sun. Burns in extremely hot, reflective locations and probably wouldn’t bloom well in extremely heavy shade.
Blooms from late December through mid-February. Timing will vary with warm spells in winter.

Not in the realm of what you would call “showy,” either of flower or foliage, winter honeysuckle outshines them all with its fragrance.

Flowers are creamy white and not showy. But they are extremely fragrant.
Best planted where north or south winter breezes can blow the fragrance past your home. Winds shift from both directions during changes in weather. Just be sure to plant it where you can enjoy the sweet smell.
The mature plant is quite unattractive in the landscape so you’ll want to have it where it can blend in with other shrubs when it’s not blooming. I refer to plant it in the “outback.” (Out back by the garage, or out in the back of the landscape.)
Winter honeysuckle is rarely seen in local nurseries. You may have to root cuttings yourself if you can find a plant in your neighborhood. That’s an easy task in a pot filled with good potting soil. Or you can find it online.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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