Friday, March 6, 2015

Flower Friday: Coral honeysuckle brings color and wildlife to your landscape!

Coral honeysuckle flowers. Photo by Terry Zinn
Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)

Coral honeysuckle is a robust, woody vine that is mostly evergreen, but can be deciduous in colder climes. Its showy blooms are scarlet red to reddish-orange, tubular and 2"+ long. Fruits are small, bright red berries that appear in the fall. Leaves are oppositely arranged, oval to oblong in shape, and have dark green upper surfaces and silvery-green undersides. Leaves growing directly under the flower stalk are usually fully clasping the stem.
Clasping leaves.
Photo by Ray Mathews, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Coral honeysuckle typically flowers in spring and summer, but its bloom season has been known to extend into fall. It occurs naturally in sandhills, hardwood hammocks, floodplains and open woodlands. The flowers are attractive to many butterflies and hummingbirds find them irresistible. Birds such as cardinals enjoy the fruits.

Family: Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle family)
Native range: Panhandle to north and central peninsula
Hardiness: Zones 7-11
Soil: Moist but well-drained, acidic to slightly alkaline soils
Exposure: Full sun to moderate shade
Growth habit: 15"+
Bright red berries. Photo by Stacey Matrazzo
Garden tips
: Coral honeysuckle is best if trained to a structure such as a fence, trellis or arbor. Without a structure, it may develop only into a weak shrub. It it easy to propagate by air layering, cuttings and seeds. Fruits should be harvested when bright red and seeds removed, cleaned and dried.  

Coral honeysuckle is a wonderful native alternative to the highly invasive Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica).

Coral honeysuckle is often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants.Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery on your area.

To see where coral honeysuckle occurs naturally, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=3861.

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