FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Lonicera sempervirens ‘Alabama Crimson’ is a beautiful selection of a cherished native vine. Like the parent, ‘Alabama Crimson’ has bluish glaucous leaves. In spring and early summer, loose clusters of deep crimson tubular flowers attract hummingbirds. Flowers are larger than the norm and produced over a longer time period. This cultivar thrives in moist to well drained soils in full sun to part shade.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: The parent plant, 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.
This cultivar is reported to be hardy from USDA Zones 4-9.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Lonicera sempervirens ‘Alabama Crimson’ is a twining vine. In northern parts of the range, plants are deciduous and in southern regions, vines are evergreen.
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.
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 look like 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. The parent plant can have flowers ranging from orange to red. Those of ‘Alabama Crimson’ are a dependable deep scarlet color. The flowers are slender and a little over 2” long with shallow lobes at the tip.
In southern areas, 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. Deer may browse the foliage but this is generally not a favorite food.
Plants can attain a height of 15’ or more if suitable vertical support is available.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Lonicera sempervirens ‘Alabama Crimson’ thrives in sun or part shade in rich moist 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 beauty is a good choice for a Trellis, Fence or Arbor in a Naturalized Area or Wildlife Garden. Lonicera sempervirns ‘Alabama Crimson’ has Attractive Foliage, Showy Blooms and Desirable Fruit. Plants are 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.
The parent species Lonicera sempervirens can be substituted as needed but flowers may be smaller and less intensely colored.
TRIVIA: Lonicera sempervirens ‘Alabama Crimson’ has unscented flowers and hummingbirds have little or no sense of smell.