Semi-evergreen vine, trumpet honeysuckle is a native honeysuckle that attracts hummingbirds. Photo credit: Clarence A. Rechenthin @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Lonicera sempervirens is a lovely native vine with bluish glaucous leaves. In spring and early summer, loose clusters of tubular coral colored flowers attract hummingbirds. This robust twining vine thrives in moist to well drained soils in full sun to part shade.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: Lonicera sempervirens ranges through most of the eastern and central United States. Plants occur from Maine to Florida and west from Illinois to Texas.
This vine is indigenous to open woods, savannas, roadsides, fence rows and thickets.
Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 4-9.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Lonicera sempervirens is a twining vine. In northern parts of the range, plants are deciduous and can die back to the ground during winter. In southern regions, this vine is evergreen and woody.
Young stems are green or purple. Older stems are straw colored with peeling bark. The stems climb by wrapping around vertical supports or nearby plants. If no support is available plants will sprawl on the ground.
Opposite leaves are arranged in pairs along the stem. The old leaves are elliptical and about 3” long. They have an attractive bluish color and very short petioles.
As flowers are initiated the set of leaves below merges into one connate-perfoliate unit. The united leaves have the appearance of a round disc that wraps around the stem.
The tubular flowers are borne above these disc shaped leaves in open clusters. Each floret is trumpet shaped or funnelform. They are scarlet outside with a yellow interior. The flowers are slender and about 2” long with shallow lobes at the tip.
Vines flower from 2-4 months. In the southern part of the range, flowering begins in spring and continues into summer. Further north, flowering occurs from summer to early fall. The floral nectar is a preferred food for ruby throated hummingbirds.
After flowering, plants produce glossy red berries that attract songbirds.
Plants can attain a height of 15’ or more if suitable vertical support is available.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Lonicera sempervirens thrives in sun or part shade in rich moist soil or average soil. Plants tolerate clay or rocky soils and can be cultivated in the vicinity of black walnut or pecan trees.
For best results in garden situations this vigorous vine should be trellised.
LANDSCAPE USES: This vine is a good choice for a Trellis, Fence or Arbor in a Naturalized Area or Wildlife Garden. Lonicera sempervirens has Attractive Foliage, Showy Blooms and Desirable Fruit. Useful as a Hummingbird Nectar Plant, Butterfly Host Plant or Accent for Cottage Gardens, Water Wise Landscapes and Low Maintenance Plantings.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Create a hummingbird buffet by pairing this lovely vine with Aquilegia canadensis, Allium cernuum, Lobelia cardinalis, Monarda ‘Peter’s Fancy Fuchsia’ or Physostegia virginiana.
Lonicera sempervirens ‘Alabama Crimson’ is a free blooming cultivar that can be substituted as needed.
TRIVIA: Caterpillars of the Spring Azure Butterfly, Hummingbird Clearwing Moth and Snowberry Clearwing Moth feed on the foliage. Deer occasionally browse the foliage but this is not a favorite food.
Lonicera sempervirens is one of the few honeysuckle species that does not have fragrant flowers. Hummingbirds have little or no sense of smell so this is a perfect match.
For more information on this plant, visit the USDA PLANTS Database: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=LOSE