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Plant this beautiful climber and enjoy its blooms spring through fall! Considered to be one of the showiest of the vining honeysuckles, coral honeysuckle typically grows 15-20 feet long with narrow, tubular flowers that bloom prolifically in spring and then intermittently all summer long until the first frost. It prefers rich, moist soil, yet it prospers in a wide variety of other soils, including sandy, rocky, and clay, as long as they aren’t waterlogged. Flowering will be most prolific in full sun, but the vine will produce some flowers in part shade, as well. The buds elongate into closed, coral-colored tubes that flare open in succession to reveal golden-yellow throats. Coral honeysuckle has glossy, blue-green foliage that is a stunning contrast to the richly colored flowers and bright red berries. Sempervirens, or “flourishing and vigorous,” refers to the leaves, which are evergreen in southern climates. It’s a semi-woody vine in northern climates, where the leaves are deciduous and the stems die down to the ground during winter.


Also known as trumpet honeysuckle and woodbine, this perennial twining vine will climb a trellis or fence by twisting its branches in a circling fashion around the supports, getting larger and fuller over time. Plant it in spring or fall as summer heat may stress the new plant. Because it has a high flammability rating, don’t plant it too close to your home. If using a trellis, lightly tie the vine to the trellis with twine. If needed, shape it by pruning after the first big bloom. However, it often does fine when left alone. It can also be allowed to sprawl its way across the lawn as a blooming groundcover.


Abundant light, air circulation, and adequate drainage will help prevent powdery mildew. The only soil problem may be a lack of drainage, and adding compost may help this issue. The plant is tolerant to both heat and cold, and it tolerates drought once established. A little fertilizer in the spring and mulch in the fall is all that is needed to keep this honeysuckle happy. If growing in a container that is not winterproof, bring the plant inside to grow as a houseplant during the winter.


Native habitats include roadsides, fence rows, and occasionally savannas and rocky open woodlands. This low-maintenance plant is popular in pollinator gardens, in recreational areas, in containers, and on fences or lattices.


Plant Characteristics:

Grows 3-20’ long and has an 8’ spread.


Prefers full sun or part shade.


Prefers rich, moist soils but also grows in well-drained sandy, loamy, rocky, clay, and neutral or acidic soils.


Trumpet-shaped flowers have 5 coral or reddish petals, yellow interiors, and 5 stamens and a single style. The flowers occur in whorled clusters of 3-6 at the ends of stems. Small red berries follow.


Leaves are thick, smooth, and sometimes tinged with red or purple. They are ovate to oblong in shape with smooth, rolled-down margins. At the upper ends of vines, the paired leaves are connected, which gives the appearance of one circular leaf intersected by a stem.


The slender vine has a green, fuzzy covering when younger and papery, exfoliating, orange-brown bark.


Wildlife Value:

Host plant for the spring azure butterfly and snowberry and hummingbird clearwing moths. These plump moths fly and move like miniature hummingbirds, hovering over flowers and even emitting hums. Of course, the flowers also attract the real thing. Hummingbirds cross-pollinate the flowers as they seek nectar, as do many native bees and butterflies. The berries provide more fats and protein than the berries of non-native honeysuckles and are readily eaten by quails, finches, robins and others.


Medicinal, Edible, and Other Uses:

Native Americans had various uses for the plant. The leaves were used to treat sore throats and coughs, chewed leaves were applied to bee stings, and parts of the plant were dried and smoked to treat asthma.

Honeysuckle, Coral, Lonicera sempervirens

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