- Part shade
Lonicera japonica commonly known as the Japanese honeysuckle, Chinese honeysuckle or white honeysuckle is a woody vine native to Japan, China and Korea. The genus got its name (Lonicera) from a botanist and comprises almost 200 species of shrubs, climbers and ground covers, both evergreen and deciduous.
The Japanese honeysuckle is a twining climber that can grow over 8 m.(26 ft.) in height and spread up to 2.5 m.(8 ft.), becoming a tangled mass of slender growth. The bark is brown and it peels in small strips from the older stems. The leaves are opposite, soft, light green, slightly pubescent on both sides, ovate to oblong, margins entire. The flowers are borne in pairs on short axillary peduncles, supported by leaf-like bracts on the youngest growth. The flowers are tubular (4 cm. long), with a fused two-lipped corolla, the upper lip 4 lobed, the lower lip single lobed. They start out white then fade to a pale yellow, highly fragrant, especially at night to attract pollinators, slightly pubescent on the outside. The fruit is globular and shiny, berry-like, turns from green to black as it ripens, containing 2-3 small dark seeds.
Lonicera japonica is very hardy, grows in most conditions, exposure sun to part shade, chalk, clay, loam, sand, well drained soil in general, acid, neutral or alkaline pH. It can be propagated in almost any way, from seed, cuttings, layering or new shoots.
It is not the most tidy of climbers but it will thrive in most conditions, the flowers are ornamental and sweet scented, giving it a somewhat exotic look. It blooms for a long period of time from early spring to late fall and in the warmer areas of the globe is evergreen or semi-evergreen eventually losing it's leaves in late winter. It has been long used in medicine and it has both edible and toxic parts. The nectar can be sucked from the bottom of the tubular flowers, hence it's common name, honeysuckle. The new leaves can be used in teas, boiled. To be used with caution as it can be confused with other species of honeysuckle which are entirely toxic. It is considered a weed and invasive in several warm parts of the world and it is banned in New Zealand.
The landscape architects and designers may choose to use the Japanese honeysuckle as a climber or even groundcover. It thrives on walls, fences, archways and pergolas, makes a great addition to hedgerows and wildlife gardens. It attracts butterflies, moths, hummingbirds and it makes a great source of food for rabbits and deer. Ideal plant for rough sites and ecological recovery, erosion control, wetlands etc.
Some popular varieties of Lonicera japonica are:
L. japonica 'Aureoreticulata' - appreciated for it's more compact growth, fragrance and golden veined, variegated foliage. Used as climber or groundcover.
L. japonica 'Halliana' - most common, known as Hall's Japanese honeysuckle, fragrant, evergreen, with vigorous darker leaves.
L. japonica 'Repens' (L.flexuosa) - one of the most ornamental honeysuckles, evergreen climber, vigorous dark green foliage. Stems, foliage and flowers and tinted red-purple on the outside.
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