It’s Valentine’s Day and I’m gushing about my love for a red, red…tubular shaped flower which blooms on a Texas tough vine.
I’m aflutter over Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens). A vine to please wildlife and people alike, this lovely and hardy plant is native to Texas, but is found in other parts of the United States.
The vine is generally evergreen in the Austin area, although can become thin in a very cold winter. My experience is that the vine blooms mostly during springtime, but I’ve seen it bloom well into summer with rain and/or irrigation. I’ve also seen occasional blooms in the fall and winter. With our mild winter this year, it’s blooming earlier than usual.
The leaves are rounded or oblong, with a point at the end and are paired and opposite from one another.
I find the new leaves attractive because of their rich bronze color and during the main bloom time, the combination of the bronze leaves and new blooms is especially beautiful.
The flowers are grouped in clusters and are red with yellow interiors. So pretty!
In spring, the well-behaved climbing vine is loaded with these gorgeous clusters of blooms.
If the timing is right and there are hummingbirds around, they’ll be courting these flowers. Coral Honeysuckle is an excellent wildlife plant. It provides nectar (for hummers, bees and butterflies) and a fruit that many birds love. I’ve had fruits develop on my vine, but they never remain long because the birds snatch them up as soon as they ripen. The mature fruit is an iridescent coral color. It’s a little too soon after the beginning of the bloom season for mature fruit, but there are some nascent fruits developing on my vine.
Coral Honeysuckle is also the larval host for the Spring Azure butterfly and the Snowberry Clearwing Moth. (Check out the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center page on Coral Honeysuckle.)
As with many vines which bloom prolifically, Coral Honeysuckle blooms best in full sun, but it will bloom in part shade, but probably not deep shade. I planted this one three years ago this month.
It grows moderately quickly–I stapled a large wire mesh to the fence to assist the vine with its climbing needs and away it went. Coral Honeysuckle is beautiful planted over an arch as an entry to a garden space. I clip off any dead undergrowth (or at least, I should…) and any errant branches. As the new growth reaches skyward, I’ll bend the branches into the existing vine or I’ll prune them, depending upon whether there’s room for the vine to spread.
I don’t have any irrigation on this vine, so this past hot and dry year, I only watered it when I noticed it looking sad and dejected. In fact, according to the The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, it’s a plant that doesn’t particularly like being in heavy or wet soils. I’ve never experienced any disease or insect problems with the vine, but the ones I’ve grown or gardened around have all received full sun.
I’ll enjoy the luscious blooms of Coral Honeysuckle and appreciate its steadfast and reliable presence in my gardens. It’s no wonder I have a crush on this plant.