Who doesn't enjoy the exquisite fragrance of a beautiful rose? Roses are said to symbolize God's love in the world. These elegant flowers often appear in reports of miracles and encounters with angels. The different bloom colors each have a meaning as well. A white rose stands for purity and holiness. Red roses signify passion and sacrifice. The yellow rose means wisdom and joy. Pink roses represent peace.

The rose is one of the most popular flowers in the United States as well as the nation's official flower.

Three main categories

There are many varieties of roses; however, most rosarians divide them into three categories: Old Garden Roses, Wild Roses and Modern Roses. Today, most of the plants commercially available for home gardens are Modern Roses bred to display large blooms that rebloom continuously.

roses in the garden

(Wild Rose photos courtesy Pixie.org; all other rose photos are mine)
pink rose
(Rosa 'Scentimental')

Old Garden Roses

Often referred to as antique or historic roses, Old Garden Roses have been known since before 1867. Their double blooms have a notably strong fragrance. However, unlike Modern Roses, they only bloom once per season. Old Garden Roses are extremely hardy and disease-resistant.

While exploring the path to an old farmhouse, a friend and I were thrilled to come upon the Old Garden Rose shown below. Rosa x alba 'Semi-plena' is also known as the White Rose of York.

white roses

The White Rose of York is a large rose displaying elegant white flowers during the late spring/early summer. Grown by George Washington at Mount Vernon, this rose's lovely white flowers are followed by red rose hips in the fall.

rose garden at Mount Vernon

(A garden at Mount Vernon; Martin Falbisoner; CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Wild Roses

Wild or species roses lack the cross-breeding and hybridization of modern varieties. These roses typically have a single bloom with five petals. The easiest way to identify a Wild Rose is by the color which is almost always pink. A red or white Wild Rose is an anomaly. And a yellow Wild Rose is exceptionally rare.

wild rose

yellow rose

Modern Garden Roses

Modern Garden Roses have been bred since 1867. Old Garden Roses bloom once a year whereas Modern Roses bloom continuously and have larger blooms. They also last longer when cut. Modern Roses typically lack the heady fragrance of Old Garden Roses. They're also less hardy and disease-resistant.

rose bushes in bloom

rose bush agaist a wall


Honeysuckle is often considered a symbol of happiness. Because the honeysuckle vine is extremely hardy and difficult to eradicate once established, it's used to symbolize devotion and unbreakable eternal bonds.

During the Victorian era, honeysuckle was often grown in gardens and around the doors of homes in England in order to ward off witches and evil spirits. When placed under a pillow, honeysuckle was also thought to cause pleasant dreams and an enhanced mood.

honeysuckle in bloom

(Native Lonicera sermpervirens 'John Clayton' by my deck)

Native honeysuckles

Most native honeysuckle vines were originally found in the eastern part of the United States, but today are found throughout the country. The trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is native to the East Coast. Hardy in USDA zones 4- 9, it is prized for its scarlet, trumpet-shaped blooms.

coral honeysuckle

(Above: Lonicera sempervirens 'Major Wheeler')

coral honeysuckle in a garden

(Above: my native 'Alabama Crimson' honeysuckle)

honeysuckle blooms

(Lonicera x heckrottii)

The problem

Unfortunately, the Japanese honeysuckle vine (Lonicera japonica), also known as golden-and-silver honeysuckle, is a big problem. This species is native to eastern Asia where it is often grown as an ornamental plant. However, it has become an invasive species in a number of countries including the United States.

Lonicera japonica's rapid growth allows it to out-compete other plants in the areas it invades, and its twining habit enables it to climb trees as tall as 33 ft. high or higher.

honeysuckle blooms

(Japanese honeysuckle)

How to identify Japanese honeysuckle

The simple leaves are opposite and oval, 1.2–3.1 inches, long and 0.79–1.18 inches wide. When its stems are young, they are slightly red in color and may be fuzzy. Older stems are brown with peeling bark, and are often hollow on the inside. The flowers are double-tongued, opening white fading to yellow, and sweetly vanilla scented. The fall fruit is a round black berry containing a few seeds. While the nectar from the flowers can be safely consumed by humans, all other parts of the plant may be toxic.

Uses in traditional medicine

The dried leaves and flowers are used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat fever, cold-related headache, cough, thirst, certain inflammation including sore throat, skin infection, and tumor necrosis.

Get honeysuckle tea here

Caveat emptor: deer love it!

wildlife habitat sign

(Photo mine)

If you have a herd of deer that pass behind your fence like I do, honeysuckle might not be the best choice for your garden. That is, unless you don't mind sharing the vine with them. Since my property is a Certified Wildlife Habitat, I'm more than happy to share.

If your property backs up to acres of wood like mine does and you don't want to grow plants that deer love to eat, you can find more information about deer deterrents here.

deer eating honeysuckle

(Photo mine)