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Winter Honeysuckle, A Breath Of Spring

Winter Honeysuckle at Raincather’s

Winter honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima, is a breath of spring when we need it most.

Delicate Bloom of the Winter Honeysuckle

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.

Honeybee in January enjoying Winter Honeysuckle blooms.

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!
Susan Thornbury
Pictures by Starla
More about Winter Honeysuckle




A Winter’s Wonder, Lonicera fragrantissima

Just when you need it the most, Lonicera fragrantissima, also known as Winter Honeysuckle bursts on the scene with its powerful scent and dainty little creamy flowers.

The blooms provide pollen and nectar to bees who are foraging on a winter’s day.

When you plan your garden, get used to including other’s needs, especially our pollinators.  Winter can be a bleak time for overwintering butterflies and bees.

Dr. William Welch suggests planting Winter Honeysuckle by a gate so when you brush by it you can enjoy the scent.  It can be grown in partial shade or full sun.  For a look at it in full sun, click here.

If you arrive early at the next *Texas Discovery Garden sale,  you might be able to take home your own small start of this fast growing fragrant bush.

Ann Lamb

*Texas Discovery Garden Sale-April 6-8, 2018

More info about Lonicera fragrantissima right here on Dallas Garden Buzz!



Winter Honeysuckle

It’s nice to have something blooming in February and it’s nice to have friends like Texas Discovery Garden.

We had all gathered around our Winter honeysuckle to inhale its lovely scent and had questions about this plant.

Winter Honeysuckle Blooming Late January through February at the Demonstration Garden on Joe Field Road

Winter Honeysuckle Blooming Late January through February at the Demonstration Garden on Joe Field Road

Roger, featured in another of our posts, answered:


Roseann had forwarded me your e-mail yesterday and I hadn’t realized until then that ours too is in bloom now!  I had gone out to check on it and never got back to respond.

As you already know it’s a non-native (E. China)so might be discouraged by some purists for planting.  Although it is listed as “invasive” by some sources, most gardeners would disagree, as it doesn’t produce many berries and only suckers for a short distance from the bush.  Perhaps in the moist woods of eastern U.S. it might escape cultivation, but doubtful here in our fairly dry habitat.  Probably it has received a bad rap from its many relatives – like the highly invasive Japanese Honeysuckle which is a VINE or Amur Honeysuckle, a bush that used to be fairly invasive in this area.

Anyone that would rather not try it, might try the native White Honeysuckle (Lonicera alba) that has very similar leaves and not quite so bush-like.  I’m not sure of its bloom time, but it probably doesn’t produce the profusion of strong scented flowers this early in the season like the Winter (or Fragrant) Honeysuckle.

As a landscape plant, it apparently is not picky as to soil type and is relatively drought tolerant.  It does have some other distinct benefits for a North Texas landscape.  The flowers this early in the season do provide a rare nectar source for bees and butterflies that venture out on warm days during the winter months (Question Marks, Goatweeds, and Mourning Cloaks are local butterflies that overwinter here as adults).  It is supposed to be an excellent bird attracting bush according to some sources for the berries.  But since ours rarely fruits, it is often the flowers that attract the birds!  They apparently eat the flowers for the nectar and spit out the petals.  One interesting comment I read is that it is sometimes referred to as “Pouting Flower” as the paired flowers face in opposite directions!

Thanks for asking about this!  I needed to write something for my weekly “In The Garden…” part of TDG’s blog, so I’ll just copy what I wrote to you!  Naturally, Roger

Roger Sanderson
Director of Horticulture

Texas Discovery Gardens
at Fair Park
3601 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Dallas, Texas 75210
P.O. Box 152537
Dallas, Texas 75315
P (214) 428-7476 ext. 210
F (214) 428-5338
The butterflies are back!

Picture by Starla

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