Lonicera periclymenum

Family: Caprifoliaceae

Countries: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Corsica, Denmark, England, Europe, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Wales, Yugoslavia

Lonicera periclymenum is a gorgeous plant.  This is an easy-going climber that’s very eager to grow.  Plants confidently cover fences and archways, weaving their magic as they stitch hedgerows together.  Lonicera periclymenum is a wild plant of many European countries.  With so many people feeling connected to this lovely plant there are likely to be a multitude of common names for Lonicera periclymenum; in the UK it’s often known as Honeysuckle.  I totally adore Lonicera periclymenum!  This plant brings me so much pleasure.  I don’t believe that I could live happily ever after without Honeysuckle growing nearby.  

Lonicera periclymenum is a summer-flowering climber.  Plants produce whorls of snow-white and golden-yellow coloured, tubular flowers.  My plants tend to flower from the end of May until the end of October, with their main flowering spectacle produced in June; this is followed by smaller repeated flushes of flowers until the end of October.  Lonicera periclymenum blooms start life as white elongated flower buds, which open to reveal pure-white flowers that age to a honeyed shade of gold.  Flowering stems hold both white and yellow flowers at the same time, which gives a rather lovely effect.

I absolutely relish the exquisite perfume from Lonicera periclymenum’s flowers!   Honeysuckle perfume can be enjoyed during close encounters in daytime.  I find that my plants send out tantalising wafts of fragrance that draw me to them in the afternoon, which is delightful, but it’s at night when Honeysuckle’s real perfume is released.  In the evenings, Lonicera periclymenum delivers its best stuff – a far more potent formula.  Daytime visitors can enjoy Honeysuckle’s eau de toilette, but it’s not until the sun sets that its full-on, high-strength perfume is launched.  High temperatures will coax a stronger perfume from these climbers.  On warm summer evenings, Honeysuckle’s powerful perfume enters my bedroom window and fills the air with its exquisite perfume, touching every fibre of my being with its soothing, relaxing and uplifting scent.  This perfume is elegant, sensual and heady, it’s a strong floral perfume with plenty of confidence; at times the scent can be sweet, but this perfume is never cloying.  It’s a strong, grown-up scent that’s enjoyed by children but designed for adults.

Bees, butterflies and moths adore Honeysuckle flowers.  After flowering, Lonicera periclymenum produces red berries that are devoured by birds.  The plants provide opportunities for birds to nest, with five-star shelter also available for hedgehogs, dormice, and other wildlife.  Honeysuckle is a great plant for a wildlife garden!

A hardy and resilient plant, Lonicera periclymenum is a deciduous climber – its leaves turn yellow in autumn before falling – new foliage is produced every year in springtime.  I leave all my Honeysuckle’s fallen leaves where they fall, beneath the plants, as this is beneficial both for the plants and for insects, invertebrates, hedgehogs, and wildlife.

This climber is a great sport, it’s very forgiving and easy to grow.  Lonicera periclymenum plants will grow happily in any soil (apart from wet and permanently waterlogged soils).  I’ve grown Lonicera periclymenum on sandy, silty, loam, and clay soils; whatever soil I’ve given this plant it has just got on with growing.  If you’re thinking of growing Lonicera periclymenum, you’ll find that these climbing plants love the sun; they’ll thrive in bright sunshine, as well as partial and dappled shade.

My garden soil is sandy and free-draining.  I’ve never once watered my Lonicera periclymenum plants, yet they’ve survived the extended droughts we’ve experienced over the past ten years with ease.  These climbers don’t need any special care or attention.  The only thing to be wary of is your pruning time; Lonicera periclymenum flower on their current year’s growth, so if you give your Honeysuckle a haircut during April or May you’ll be cutting off your plant’s flowering stems.  Don’t be too hasty with your pruning; prune Lonicera periclymenum plants in winter, after the birds have enjoyed their berries.  There’s nothing complicated about pruning Lonicera periclymenum, just trim your plants back or readjust them to suit your needs.  Please don’t worry – if you don’t prune your plants at all they will still flower very happily indeed – I’ve left my plants unpruned many times.  In springtime, like to give my plants a mulch – a dose of lovely home-made compost or peat-free compost over the soil.

I’ve revived older Lonicera periclymenum plants by giving them a hard prune in late winter or early spring.  At the end of February few years ago, I cut back an old Honeysuckle that had lost heart and was more than a little lacklustre.  When I finished pruning, my Honeysuckle was a mere shadow of its former self – I was left with a few rooted stems that were around 60cm (2 foot) tall.  I mulched my plant with a good quality peat-free compost.  This Honeysuckle looked bare and forlorn for quite a while, positive change didn’t happen overnight, but by the summertime my Lonicera periclymenum had shown itself and by the following summer it was spectacular – full of joy and flowers!

Text books say that Lonicera periclymenum plants grow up to 7 or 8 meters (22 foot) tall, but if you don’t have a 8m high area to cover, don’t let these figures put you off.  I have Lonicera periclymenum covering a 6 foot fence in my garden; I don’t prune my Honeysuckle plants very often, yet they have been very happy growing here for longer than nine years.  I don’t feel like I am containing or restricting my plants.  Thanks to this plant’s twining habit, Lonicera periclymenum is not difficult to grow to a shorter height.  Let me reassure you that plants can be grown as shorter specimens without the fear of losing out on any flowers.  As well as covering fences or adding interest to hedges, I’ve also grown Lonicera periclymenum successfully up obelisks and narrower supports.

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