Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Winter Honeysuckle
Lonicera fragrantissima

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Family: Caprifoliaceae (cap-ree-foh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info) (cap-ree-foh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Lonicera (luh-NIS-er-a) (Info)
Species: fragrantissima (fray-gran-TISS-ih-muh) (Info)

9 vendors have this plant for sale.

25 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Category:
Shrubs

Height:
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

Spacing:
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

Hardiness:
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Danger:
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring

Foliage:
Evergreen
Deciduous

Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Non-patented

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From woody stem cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From hardwood cuttings
From hardwood heel cuttings
By air layering
By tip layering
By serpentine layering

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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There are a total of 22 photos.
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Profile:

21 positives
6 neutrals
6 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Neutral Clint07 On Apr 22, 2014, Clint07 from Bethlehem, PA wrote:

Ordinarily Winter Honeysuckle blooms in February in my Zone 6A yard. This year, 2014, it didn't bloom until May.
It's early blossom is a welcome omen in the late winter, but it's only modestly ornamental.

Positive coriaceous On Feb 11, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This is valuable for one reason: its extraordinary fragrance when little else is in bloom. It blooms in late winter or very early spring, with a light, sweet, penetrating scent like that of lemon blossoms. Its scent lacks the heaviness of Japanese honeysuckle, but it's strong and it caries. I can often smell a single shrub a hundred feet downwind, and my sense of smell is almost nonexistent. The flowers are small and bloom before the leaves emerge, but though they're attractive they're not very showy in the landscape.

Branches can be brought into the house in winter and forced for use in arrangements. Their scent can perfume a room.

This is a big dowdy shrub, usually 6-10' tall (sometimes as much as 15') and equally wide. It's tardily deciduous and usually gets some powdery mildew late in the season. If you plant it, allow enough room, because it's big and very vigorous. When it needs renewal pruning, it will regrow happily after being cut back to the ground.

This was a popular shrub for a century after its introduction in 1845, but it fell out of fashion after WW2.

This species is often confused with other shrubby Asian honeysuckles (L. tatarica, morrowii, maackii, xbella) which are serious invasive threats to natural habitat over a wide swath of North America. Unlike the others, winter honeysuckle does not appear on the invasive or noxious weed list for any state. I've seen credible reports that it is locally invasive in Tennessee and parts of at least one neighboring state. The BONAP atlas indicates that its distribution is scattered and local in the mid atlantic and southeast states.

But over most of the East it does not easily spread. In Massachusetts, I've observed this plant for many years, and I've never seen a single seedling. I've also seen many places where various honeysuckles have taken over the understory layers of our forests, but I've never seen this species in a natural area here in the northeast.

Positive Obiwankentucky On Jun 16, 2013, Obiwankentucky from Columbia, KY wrote:

Delightful fragrance, and it comes at a wonderful time of year for pollinating critters.

There are several types of shrub/tree honeysuckles, and this one is almost never invasive. Check on the time of year that yours blooms if you suspect those invasive shrubs of being Winter Honeysuckle- the invasive shrubs in my area are of a different species... mostly Manchurian bush honeysuckle. Shorter shrubs usually, with berries that last all into winter, unlike winter honeysuckle.

Neutral JoAnn1947 On May 28, 2013, JoAnn1947 from Raleigh, NC wrote:

I really love the winter honeysuckle shrub. There was one outside my bedroom window all the years I was growing up. When I found them at a local nursery several years ago, I purchased one for my garden and one for my sister. I love the late winter blossoms and the fragrant aroma of this shrub. That said, however, I do find it to be invasive. I planted mine in a well-tilled (1' deep tilling), and well-amended central backyard garden. My shrub is now more than 12 feet tall, has five significant plant offshoots, is more than 16 feet wide, and has taken over this entire garden area. I still love the winter honeysuckle, the cardinals nesting in the upper branches each spring, and everything about this shrub, except its' enormous size! I'm going to try to remove the offshoots (which are as tall as the original shrub), and attempt to bully it back to a suitable size. It's a beautiful, very healthy shrub, but it's huge and it's now covered a number of garden art items, including a large birdbath.

Positive sodcaver On May 1, 2013, sodcaver from Powhatan, VA wrote:

Honey bees love this plant. My neighbor has bees and every February they are on my Lonicera Fragrantissima. I feel this plant may be good food for the bees. Bee keepers may want to keep a few of these plants close to their hives to help them survive the winters.

Negative fotophreek On Jan 22, 2013, fotophreek from Crestwood, KY wrote:

A commenter stated that other people have got this mixed up with a vine and it is not invasive. We do NOT have this shrub mixed up with a vine. Here in KY it is a shrub and it is invasive.

Positive pokerino On Oct 23, 2012, pokerino from Little Rock, AR wrote:

All the negative reviews have confused this plant with the invasive Japanese Honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica. This is not a vine but a woody shrub. Fifteen years ago when I moved into my older home in LIttle Rock, an elderly specimen was growing at the southwest corner of the house. Over the years I've let a few of the branches grow out over the south facing windows of the den. Birds like to perch there and on sunny winter days when the fragrant blossoms open, I enjoy watching the honey bees, who I seldom see during the summer, gathering their nectar in the warm sun.

Positive arthurb3 On Mar 2, 2012, arthurb3 from Raleigh, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

This plant becomes a large open shrub that is rather boring most of the year. Comes winter is when it shines! Small white flowers that are very fragrant. It will occasionally sucker for a root, expecially if the root is cut. Occasionally it may produce a seed or two but its basically seedless. I would not consider it aggressive. Birds find the winter flowers a good source of food and its open habit a great place to nest.

http://arthur-in-the-garden.com/

Positive makeboxes On Jan 31, 2012, makeboxes from Fort Mill, SC wrote:

Hardly invasive - I inadvertently left a potted cutting from Florida at the head of my driveway nearly 20 years ago. Never pruned, it has spread into a dowdy clump maybe 6 feet by 10 that delights me every January with incredible fragrance. This year, with our really mild winter, it started blooming in November and is still at it at the end of January. A couple observations - I have two friends who are unable to smell it at all; and I have seen birds eating the flowers - just now, a pair of house finches. I believe they are getting nectar, because they clip off a flower, much it for a second, and then drop it. I'm happy to share.

Positive realshady On Apr 30, 2011, realshady from Lagrange, GA wrote:

I agree with nifty413. Be sure to know the plant before posting any comments. Lonicera fragrantissima is a shrub from China, not a vine from Japan. If it is invasive, I'd like to know the exact locations where it has taken over and crowded out native plants, so I can see it for myself. Mature plants don't make very many seeds, and I have not seen this plant propagate itself in the same manner as the Japanese Honeysuckle vine. Winter Honeysuckle would not be planted on a trellis. I'm certain that the vine mentioned in a that destroyed a trellis was a different plant, Japanese Honeysuckle. I searched the USDA Forestry Service invasive plant list and did not find Lonicera fragrantissima on the list. Lonicera has many species, some of which are native and not invasive at all.

Positive nanlon On Apr 24, 2011, nanlon from Forest Hill, WV wrote:

I've always known this plant as "First Breath of Spring" and only in the last couple of years found out that it was a winter honeysuckle.

Had a shrub for over 30 years in NC and when I moved to WV in 2004, this was one of the plants I HAD to bring to my new home. This is the second Spring after transplanting (had a delay in getting a start) and it bloomed very well. Still has a few blossoms, but is going leafy now.

In NC, it was a favorite of cardinals and mockingbirds, from the waxy-like blossoms to the red berries later on. As an avid bird lover, those attributes are why it is now in a favored spot in my front yard.

I never had a problem with runners, suckers, or anything else in NC. Have ground-rooted a branch here in WV as a starter plant for a friend.

My first start was from a great-aunt, and the one I have now is from an aunt. This plant has been in the yards of quite a few generations in our family, and no problems anywhere.

Positive nifty413 On Mar 7, 2011, nifty413 from Garland, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Someone needs to provide exact GPS coordinates of where this plant is acting as invasive and preventing native trees and shrubs from propagating. It would seem that styrofoam cups or food containers from fast food establishments blown by the wind or carried by water would be equally or more likely to prevent native flora from propagating and flourishing in natural habitats.

PLEASE become informed before posting comments especially about this species being a vine: which it is NOT.

Updated: found GPS coordinates for this species occurrence in Tarrant Co. The comments about the location denote phrases like "one large plant with a few smaller nearby." Other locations were adjacent to or in landscaped areas where the plant(s) had been deliberately planted. I'm not finding a justification for condemning this species in the state of Texas.

Positive sgperry On Mar 4, 2011, sgperry from San Angelo, TX wrote:

I started with one Winter Honeysuckle plant 10 years ago and in that time I have only found a few smaller plants coming up under the main plant. I transplanted these elsewhere in my landscape where the fragrance of the blooms in late winter can't be beat. The Negative comments about this plant being invasive or growing up a trellis must be for some other type of honeysuckle with the common name of Sweet Breath of Spring since I have found nothing about this plant to be invasive. It is a rather non descript large shrub most of the year, but is very drought tolerant and survives well in our West Texas weather.

Positive jackidee On Feb 20, 2011, jackidee from Sherwood, OR wrote:

This shrub has grown to about 6 feet in 4 years from a rooted cutting. It is unremarkable most of the year, and in bloom the twiggy habit makes it look messy. I like the winter blooms and will begin to prune it to shape now.

Negative steinbeck On Feb 16, 2011, steinbeck from Dallas, TX wrote:

I have had a wild hunnysuckle invade my yard and it caused a real headache, came up in the yard, all over the fence, in the park behind the yard. If this is anything like that I would avoid it because it will overtake native plant life and choke it out. In the South we have to be very careful about such things which grow very quickly and take over when we don't want them to.
Steinbeck from Dallas, Tx.

Positive killdawabbit On Feb 16, 2011, killdawabbit from Christiana, TN (Zone 6b) wrote:

This shrub is not a vine as someone below mentioned. In my area (middle TN) it is not the least invasive, contrary to the article in the link below. I have seen only one volunteer seedling in the 20+ years I have been growing it. I wouldn't be without it.
Also it is from China, not Japan.
http://www.paghat.com/winterhoneysuckle.html

Negative HesterPryse On Feb 15, 2011, HesterPryse from Lexington, KY wrote:

This plant is a very invasive non-native, and in Kentucky it can take over a yard or stream bank in no time. I once spent a summer removing it from a new home. This means digging up the roots, only to discover that my yard was almost twice as large as it had seemed before the 'Japanese" honeysuckle as it is known here was removed. Birds will eat the seeds which then spread the plants and at the same time the seeds do not provide the nutrition to the birds that native plants will provide. It is bad all the way around. Witch Hazel will scent the air at this time and really doesn't get much taller.

Negative desmarc On Feb 14, 2011, desmarc from New York, NY wrote:

This is an invasive plant that threatens natives. It would be very irresponsible to purposely encourage its spread.

Here is info on Lonicera fragratissima: http://www.invasive.org/browse/subinfo.cfm?sub=3038

And here's a good outline of why we should avoid non-native, invasive plants: http://www.invasive.org/101/index.cfm

Negative luciee On Feb 14, 2011, luciee from Hanceville, AL (Zone 7a) wrote:

I was having a hard time in general when I first smelled this plant, and now when I smell it, all the bad feelings come back. I don't know how to get past it. Maybe in my old age, it would not affect me like that, and I can try again. Being honeysuckle, it should grow where I live.

Negative xerichick On Feb 14, 2011, xerichick from Dripping Springs, TX wrote:

My mother planted lonicera fragrantissima to grow up a trellis/privacy screen next to the patio. As a child, I loved this vine because it was fragrant & beautiful, but it also eventually grew so prolifically that it destroyed the trellis. This was not a flimsy structure but made from 2"X1" slats & supported on 4"X4" posts set in concrete. Being too young at the time, I didn't understand why my mother had the vine taken out along with the trellis. This plant is on the USDA Forest Service's list of Non-native Invasive Plants of Southern Forests.

Positive grapevinegarden On Jul 6, 2010, grapevinegarden from Alvarado, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Heady fragrance while the the rest of the garden lies silent. Great to plant near sitting areas or downwind in the wintertime. Mature plant trained into a tree form can be interesting specimen with blooms from bare limbs with shaggy peeling bark. Must be pruned to maintain a tree form. In zone 7b/8a will become 15 feet tall and wide with a gently arching top.

Positive mintfresh On Feb 15, 2010, mintfresh from Silver Spring, MD wrote:

In 1979 I moved into an older home in a near-in suburb of the District of Columbia. The house was flanked by an already mature Winter Honeysuckle with azaleas underneath. Over the years it has reliably bloomed with an intoxicating fragrance, varying from mid-December to March. The bush tends to accumulate dead branches which are pruned off annually, which I suspect is a big factor in its lovely shape. It stands over 15 feet high and is at least as wide, with a domed top and long arching branches hanging down. A big bonus: the birds love it.

Positive chrisw99 On Feb 10, 2009, chrisw99 from Los Altos, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

This large, rangy bush isn't particularly attractive as a shrub, but the fragrance is heavenly and carries on the damp spring air. It blooms for me in early Jan and continues until Mar/Apr. When I walk by the fence in early Jan and catch just a whiff of the delightfully sweet fragrance, I know that Spring is coming soon. Lonicera fragrantissima is tough and handles our dry summers with only very occasional watering. It spreads by suckers so it is easy to dig up some and transplant them to other locations.

I read in English gardening books that they suggest planting Lonicera fragrantissima in a mixed hedge to provide the fragrance while other shrubs provide the interesting leaves and structure.

Positive passiflora_pink On May 15, 2007, passiflora_pink from Shelby County, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

Blooms in February. Very hardy and vigorous grower. Fragrant blossoms.

Neutral Fitsy On Feb 5, 2007, Fitsy from Hayesville, NC (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant is blooming here now, and an overwintgering hummingbird is greatly appreciating it!

Positive stoner On Dec 27, 2006, stoner from Arlington, TX (Zone 7b) wrote:

10 yr old-great plant. flowers late winter here. under native oak & elms- practically full shade for 8 mths a yr.. gets sun in winter after trees drop leaves. never done a thing too it, but flowers fine. probably should trim/cut back based on others info for more flowers.

Neutral frostweed On Dec 20, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Winter Honeysuckle Lonicera fragrantissima is naturalized in Texas and other States.

Positive sladeofsky On Aug 28, 2006, sladeofsky from Louisville, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:

When winter gray has seemingly devoured all life and the gloom threatens to dry up your very soul, this cheery fellow fills the air with a deliciously sweet, fruity fragrance. Like a lifeline thrown from the distant spring it is enough to remind one that maybe all is not forsaken. But don't be so grateful that you shy from the sheers. Left alone this shrub grows into an ungainly mess. Prune to just a few inches from the ground, after flowering of course. Don't wory, in almost no time, new growth will completely hide your butchery. Around Louisville, Winter Honeysuckle is commonly found as hedging around older homes. It seems to have been somewhat forgotten these days, but you won't forget its scent if you encounter it. If there is'nt one already wafting perfume from a neighbors garden then you certainly need to plant one in yours.

Neutral bermudakiller On Mar 18, 2006, bermudakiller from Union Grove, AL wrote:

I love this plant, but here it is highly invasive, to the point of wiping out understory plants in the woods, as bad as privit, I keep it in my garden, but if we get government grants to erradicate it, i will remove mine, I have raised it in several locations and this are is the only one I have noticed any problems, It is a middle of the winter cut flower and hard to beat.

Positive DawninTx On Mar 13, 2006, DawninTx from Nevada, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Worth growing for the sweetly fragrant flowers which appear before the foliage in January. Small inconspicuous flowers often continue untill early March. The bush can be leggy and is best used in an inconspicuous location. I got my winter honeysuckle as a root cutting from a plant found blooming on an old abandoned home site. It grows for me in clay soil, amended with compost. I give it a little fertilizer and don't let it dry out in the heat of summer. It rewards me in winter with sweet smelling flowers that remind me spring is just around the corner.

Positive eranthis On Apr 10, 2005, eranthis from Fayetteville, AR wrote:

Beautiful fragrance redeems the leggy and sprawling form. It has grown for many years at the end of a cane hedge, despite much interference. I am going to move it this year. Cross your fingers.

Positive Fran99 On Jun 15, 2004, Fran99 from Spartanburg, SC wrote:

My grandmother planted these in the 50's and they are still a "breath of spring" in late Feb. Also called "pouting bush" or "pouting flower" because the flowers face opposite directions.

Neutral lantana On May 6, 2001, lantana from (Zone 7a) wrote:

Winter honeysuckle is a tough, long-lived shrub that blooms in late winter, often bearing ice-covered blooms. Extremely fragrant, often perfuming entire neighborhoods, the flowers are rather small and inconspicuous. The shrub is best used along woodland edges and out of the way corners as it is not attractive enough to be used as a singular speciman planting. The fragrance of the flowers more than compensate for this however, as does its extreme toughness and ability to survive. Evergreen in the South, it is deciduous further north. Often found in old cemeteries and around old home sites. Although it can withstand drought and can be used in xeriscapes, it benefits from feeding and water. Will not tolerate bad drainage and wet feet.
Propagation is by cuttings and divisions.
Height: 8'-10'
Spread: to 8'
Blooms on last year's growth. Prune just after blooming.
In Texas, begins blooming in December and finishes in March-April. I have often brought in branches covered in ice and in full bloom.
Native to eastern China.

Regional...

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Colony, Alabama
Indian Springs Village, Alabama
Union Grove, Alabama
Dermott, Arkansas
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Little Rock, Arkansas
Monticello, Arkansas
Morrilton, Arkansas
Los Altos, California
Brent, Florida
Aldora, Georgia
Douglasville, Georgia
Gray, Georgia
La Grange, Georgia
Palmetto, Georgia
Plainfield, Illinois
Benton, Kentucky
Columbia, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Orchard Grass Hills, Kentucky
Smiths Grove, Kentucky
Coushatta, Louisiana
Centreville, Maryland
Kemp Mill, Maryland
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Duluth, Minnesota
Carriere, Mississippi
Cleveland, Mississippi
Mathiston, Mississippi
Waynesboro, Mississippi
Brooklyn, New York
Putnam Valley, New York
Cape Carteret, North Carolina
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Polkton, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina (2 reports)
Cave Junction, Oregon
Sherwood, Oregon
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
New Hope, Pennsylvania
Conway, South Carolina
Fort Mill, South Carolina
Gramling, South Carolina
Saluda, South Carolina
Spartanburg, South Carolina
Christiana, Tennessee
Memphis, Tennessee
Alvarado, Texas
Arlington, Texas
Dallas, Texas
Dalworthington Gardens, Texas
Garland, Texas
Nevada, Texas
Roman Forest, Texas
San Angelo, Texas
San Leanna, Texas
Lexington, Virginia
Powhatan, Virginia
Seattle, Washington
Forest Hill, West Virginia



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