Winter honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima, is a breath of spring when we need it most.
It isn’t native to Texas, but as the bumper stickers say–It got here as soon as it could–brought from China in the 19th century. Since then it has proven to be a hardy easy care shrub with one claim to fame, but that’s a big claim. First, shell pink buds swell along the branches followed by many fluffy white flowers that smell lovely. The scent is similar to gardenia but not oppressive, a light springy fragrance. This display goes on for weeks even when there are freezes providing a treat for the gardener and obviously a treat for the bees at a time when treats are in short supply.
It won’t take long to list care requirements for this plant. Provide good drainage in either full sun or partial shade for Winter Honeysuckle. Naturally it must be watered to establish, after that it does not require large amounts of irrigation. Remember, of course, that all plants need water provided when rain is not forthcoming.
Winter honeysuckle can grow large, but it can be kept much smaller by pruning done after the winter bloom. Do be aware that in some areas this plant can be overly rambunctious. This has not been a problem at Raincatcher’s but be watchful especially if your garden is near a wild area. Winter Honeysuckle spreads by seed and suckers.
Does it sound like just what your garden needs? Hopefully there will be starts available at the Raincatcher’s plant sale at the April 2019 meeting!
Pictures by Starla