04/10/2014 - 10/31/2014
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Lonicera sempervirens ‘Magnifica’
Attributes: Coral honeysuckle is a semi-evergreen perennial vine that is native to the southeastern United States. It is commonly found in fencerows, clearings, and along roadsides growing happily in full sun to part shade, often in poor, dry soil. At maturity, coral honeysuckle may reach 25’, but ultimate size depends on the structure on which it is grown. Coral honeysuckle begins blooming here at the Garden in very early spring, with some flowers appearing as early as late January. Peak bloom time occurs from May through late June. ‘Magnifica’ differs from the species in that the insides of the 2-3” tubular coral flowers are yellow rather than solid coral red. The flowers are much loved by hummingbirds and bees, and the red fruits are eaten by songbirds, making the coral honeysuckle a multipurpose, ecologically friendly landscape plant
Growing Tips: Coral honeysuckle is a no-fuss addition to the sunny garden. It thrives in average soil with good drainage, but will get along quite happily in heavy clay or fast-draining sand. Flowering is best with a minimum of six hours of direct sun, but coral honeysuckle will still manage to eek out a few blooms in heavy shade, where its habit will be sparse and open. In full sun, ‘Magnifica’ will be a cloud of flowers held aloft over a mat of blue-grey foliage. Plants should be allowed to scramble through shrubbery or trained on a fence or arbor to best appreciate the pendant flowers and the inevitable wildlife visiting the nectar-rich flowers. Coral honeysuckle does not require high-fertility soil, and flowering will be limited in favor of foliage production if high-nitrogen fertilizers are used. Spring fertilization with a good quality complete fertilizer or a top dressing of manure-based compost will be sufficient to keep coral honeysuckle looking its best. Pruning to maintain desired size and form should be done in very early spring and as needed throughout the growing season. Avoid late fall pruning to allow new growth time to harden before the first hard frost.
Landscape Uses: All of our native honeysuckles are excellent for trellis or arbor work, as well as for covering less-than-attractive fences. They also look spectacular cascading over walls. With judicious pruning, ‘Magnifica’ coral honeysuckle may be used as a container specimen with flowering annuals, tropicals, or perennials. Given our current environmental problems, the use of native plants in the landscape is of increased significance. Coral honeysuckle, along with the vast majority of plants native to the mid-south, provides food and shelter for wildlife, attracting many species to our gardens where they may be better appreciated by urban gardeners. This not only provides a service for wildlife, but it increases our awareness of ecology and the intricate relationships between flora and fauna.
Location in the Garden: Lonicera sempervirens ‘Magnifica’ may be seen in bloom now in the Anne Heard Stokes Butterfly Garden at the Memphis Botanic Garden.
Text and Image by Chris Cosby, Greenhouse Mgr., Memphis Botanic Garden