Would Gold Flame Honeysuckle be invasive in Tx hillcountry.

Fredericksburg, TX(Zone 8a)

I'm in Zone 8a and my soil is alkaline. I have this plant in a very large pot but it's not happy, so I thought maybe I should put it in the ground., but I don't want it all over the yard.

Mary Lee

PS I posted this also in the Texas Gardening forum, but didn't get an answer.

It's a cultivar of Lonicera x heckrottii. I really wish people who sell these plants would list the sceintific name of the plant on the tag because it would make it a heck of a lot easier for people trying to decide whether to buy it or not. L. x heckrottii is an alien species to North America and has begun to naturalize in two states. Documentation (field collected data) of the undesirable traits of this plant appears to be limited most probably because it hasn't become as popular as other introuduced Honeysuckles. Simply stated, more emphasis appears to be placed on documenting the invasion of the more popular introduced species of Lonicera. Origin of this plant isn't well documented other than being non-native to the US and that it's parentage includes a European hybrid. It tolerates a wide range of soil conditions to include the alkaline soil you mentioned above, can tolerate a wide range of zones, is shade tolerant, is self-compatible, hybridizes, can produce viable seed which has numerous dispersal mechanisms to include birds, and overall has a claim to fame that it is "not spread out of control quite as easily as Japanese Honeysuckle". Some people claim it is susceptible to powdery mildew. I don't know if this plant is allelopathic or not. Is this formally identified as an invasive species anywhere- not that I can find but it sure does appear to have potential to be a problem child given there's already documentation of it having naturalized.

Fredericksburg, TX(Zone 8a)

Ok, Equilibrium. Thanks for the info. I think I'll keep it in the pot The flowers are supposed to be sterile, so I should be safe there. I didn't know it was shade tolerant. Maybe it's not happy because it needs more shade since this is Tx and the heat is pretty intense in summer. I'll try moving it.

Thanks much.

Can you do me a big favor and take a photo of the tag or the flyer or what ever it was that advertised it had sterile flowers and post it please?

Fredericksburg, TX(Zone 8a)

I think I read on DG somewhere. I'll try to find it.

Fredericksburg, TX(Zone 8a)

Ok, I'm sorry. I got confused because I started 2 threads. I didn't get an answer on the first one, so I started this one. I guess I need to close the first one or something.

Anyway, I looked up Gold Flame honeysuckle in the plant files. The latin name is Lonicera X heckrotti and according to plant files it has sterile flowers. I hope that's true. I try very hard not to plant invasive things.

Mary Lee

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

The problem with that check box in Plant Files is that it's just saying seed collecting isn't a recommended propagation method for this plant because of one of several possible reasons (sterile flowers, doesn't set seed, or won't come true from seed). You can have a plant that sets lots and lots of seed, but if it's a hybrid cultivar (like 'Gold Flame') the seedlings won't be true to the parent, so you check off that box and tell people they need to propagate by cuttings instead. So unless you find info elsewhere saying the flowers are sterile, I'm assuming that box was checked on this particular plant because the seedlings won't be true to the parent.

Hi Mary Lee,

I went to the PlantFiles and looked up this plant.

I found what you were referring to-
Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Propagation Methods:
From leaf cuttings
From herbaceous stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

The PlantFiles are a guide. They are created by humans so there is always going to be a margin of error and additionally they are somewhat limiting in that many species don't fit "neatly" into the categories available.

First off, this species can tolerate alkaline soils and there's documentation of that out there yet the current entry claims neutral to mildly acidic. This is not incorrect information in the PlantFiles, it's just sort of incomplete.

Propagation methods indicate this plant could be propagated from leaf cuttings or from herbaceous stem cuttings. This information is not incorrect but the plant can also be propagated by seed and there are many people who have done so. Note the parentage on this 'Gold Flame' cultivar. All of the parents are herbaceous perennials that can be sown from seed. The seed may need to be cold stratified to break the embryo's dormancy but it can be sown from seed. Because Lonicera X heckrotti 'Gold Flame' is a cultivar... any seed that germinates may not resemble the parent plant. That's why it's preferable to vegetatively propagate the plant if you want a look-a-like or rather a clone. So when the person who created that entry checked off that box for that category, he/she was merely stating that the plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed. Based on the or and based on what's available to check off in that entry, that information is technically correct even though the hybrid and the clone are not sterile. It was the second half of the statement that the individual was checking off not the first half. I've had to do it myself for entries because the two are lumped together and separated by the or.

Lonicera X heckrotti is a hybrid. Lonicera X heckrotti 'Gold Flame' is a cultivar of the hybrid. Have you ever heard the term "hybrid vigor"? I truly don't believe it's sterile. This plant can be reproduced both sexually and asexually.

Hope this helps because if you were thinking that keeping it in a pot was going to stop it from setting seed, it won't. I don't believe this is a plant that requires a specialized pollinator either. Using pots to contain plants that are potentially aggressive or invasive that are rhizomatous is great... but not for plants that can also set viable seed regardless of whether it is true to type or not once it germinates and matures. Hate to toss a real ringer in to this mess but many plants that are sold as sterile are capable of producing offspring that are anything but sterile (example would be Pyrus calleryana or rather the now notorious 'Bradford' Pear that was marketed as being sterile). Cultivars of Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii) would be yet another example of plants that can set viable seed although not necessarily true to type. Many gardeners now know that Butterfly Bush is highly invasive yet some plant it in pots so it doesn't "escape" so they can continue to enjoy it. It's mostly people who like hummingbirds and butterflies who do this and they aren't interested in choosing a plant that is not invasive. Now, think of all the Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii) cultivars out there. Cultivars aren't listed as being invasive per se because it is assumed that they are. Needless to say when a cultivar gets listed as simply Buddleia 'Lochinch' or 'Datrmore' or 'Nanho Blue', even those who wouldn't have purchased or planted a Buddleia davidii might unsuspectingly plant the cultivar. Does this make sense?

Fredericksburg, TX(Zone 8a)

Oh, I see. Well, there could be a problem here then. I haven't seen anything in the yard that looks like any kind of honeysuckle, but I will look for it. Thanks Ecrane3

Fredericksburg, TX(Zone 8a)

I think I understand. I really don't want to plant garden thugs, but it's hard to resist a honeysuckle. I did manage to resist a rangoon creeper. Bought this honeysuckle and thought I did good.

The offspring won't generally show up in yards because those are pretty well maintained and people have a tendency of mowing lawns and pulling up sprouts that appear out of place. The offspring generally show up elsewhere such as in natural areas that can be pretty far away from the parent plant. Depends on the dispersal mechanism. Some seeds are dispersed by wind, some by water, birds, mammals, people's pets, and people who share seed.

The dispersal mechanism for this type of a Lonicera would be very similar to that which is described for these Lonicera here-
Over 20 species of birds are known to eat the seed. Birds eat the seed then poop it out miles away in what I refer to as ready made fertilizer packs.

Oops, typing when you were typing.

Were you aware that this species was indigenous to your State and is a native-

It's actually far more beautiful than the 'Gold Flame' in my opinion.

Fredericksburg, TX(Zone 8a)

Equilibrium, no I didn't know about that one. But on that link it sounds like it needs to be somewhere really wet. It's very dry here. Maybe if we can expand our pond, I could put it in the bog area.

Crofton, MD(Zone 7a)

Mary Lee- Coral honeysuckle doesn't have to be located in a bog or somewhere really wet. I have some growing in my backyard. It does need to be watered while you are getting it established.

How much rainfall do you get in Fredericksburg compared to Austin? If you check out Dave's PlantFiles you will see many reports of this species in TX including two in Austin.


Fredericksburg, TX(Zone 8a)

Our rainfall is close to Austin, but maybe a little less. How much rain do you get in Crofton?

Crofton, MD(Zone 7a)

Average annual rainfall in Maryland is about 40 inches. Last year we had drought conditions here from early spring through mid summer but I planted some new plants anyway, including the Coral Honeysuckle.

Fredericksburg, TX(Zone 8a)

Wow, 40 inches. Here we get less than 20 I think. We are supposed to get about 25, but we haven't in a long time. This year is supposed to be even hotter than last year, which is really hard to imagine. I am ordering caladiums and clematis from Notmartha's coop and telling myself "you know you shouldn't be doing this", but myself never listens to advice.:)

Crofton, MD(Zone 7a)

I have been thinking of getting a caladium or two for a shaded bed next to my house. Good luck with your new plants.

Fredericksburg, TX(Zone 8a)

Thanks Greenkat. Same to you.:)

Mary Lee

My experiences with Coral Honeysuckle parallel greenkatís. It doesnít need wetland or even marginal conditions to be happy.

Caladium was just mentioned. Does anyone have any experiences growing that in a container that could be brought into a garage for the winter? I've got two planters that I'd like to try a particular type of variegated Caladium in but I don't particularly like digging up the plants in fall or storing them. It would be really nice if I could just pick up the planter, plants and all, and haul it in so I could bring it back out in spring. I did try it once and they didn't come back. Maybe I attempted to overwinter them improperly?

Fredericksburg, TX(Zone 8a)

Thanks for the responses on honeysuckle.

I am taking part in Notmartha's caladium/clematis coop. and somebody gave me some advice on that subject. She said to dig them up, wash the dirt off and put them somewhere to dry completely and then store them in a nylon bag or cardboard box with something around them. Can't remember what it was, but I'm going to use sawdust. We have a wood shop so there's an endless supply of sawdust. I am wondering if leaving them in the pot would work and just not water it. I have a pt of Miss Muffet's that I overwintered in the greenhouse, but I think DH watered them, so they probably won't come back. They aren't mushy, but they aren't growing either.

When I get the caladiums I ordered, I am going to put them in pots and sink them in the dirt. They should stay cooler that way and when next winter comes I won't have any trouble finding them all.

I watered them over the winter. I kept them damp not moist. I know I am too lazy to dig them up and dry them out but I would have no problems dragging them into the garage where it doesn't ever freeze and I could let them totally dry out in the pot. I'll try it. What the heck, I can't do worse than I've already done with the last Caladium.

Fredericksburg, TX(Zone 8a)

Yes, that's my opinion too.:) And when you buy through a coop the prices are really low. You might try an experiement too though. Leave some in their pots and put some in sawdust or something. Oh, the other thing she said to use was rice hulls. She also said to check them periodically though to check for mold or fungus, so maybe leaving them in the dirt isn't a good idea. It would be more difficult to check for mold.

I'm thinking I am too lazy to go the sawdust route. I always forget to get to them in time and they freeeze by the time my brain switches gears. Poor Caladiums should go to a better plant mommy. They're probably doomed to death over here unless they can overwinter in a pot unattended.

Fredericksburg, TX(Zone 8a)

Yea, I'm lazy too, but I have all this shade to deal with in the front yard. It looks so dull and boring, so I'm experimenting with different things. If you can't get them for free, then a coop is the next best thing, right?:)

I bought mine in bags from Builders Square the first time. I bought a couple hundred of them and dug a couple hundred holes for them and lovingly planted each one. I felt like such an idiot when they didn't come back the following year. Should have familiarized myself with the plant. I did the same thing with Gladiolas too. Classic deal of when one is dumb, one pays.

Last time I bought plants from Home Depot or maybe it was another one of those stores. I'm sure I should have cut back on the water and not treated them like a carnivorous plant but oh well, I'll try again and keep them dry like you said. I really would like to have the variegated Caladium flanking the entrance to my doors and I really would prefer to not have to buy new ones each year but if it's not meant to be I guess it's not meant to be.

Fredericksburg, TX(Zone 8a)

Yes, I am usually very cautious when buying a plant I've never had before. No matter what the tag says, no matter what the nursery people say, I buy one or 3 if they are inexpensive and try it out. I have tried out many things in my front yard and lost many of them due to heat and droubt. Things that like heat, droubt and shade at the same time are on a short list.

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