How to Grow Coral Honeysuckle

Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) plant in bloom

lorrainecarol / Getty Images

The coral honeysuckle produces beautiful trumpet-shaped flowers in red, coral, orange, or yellow. Despite the invasive reputation of common honeysuckle, coral honeysuckle is native to the United States and is a perfect alternative to its invasive cousins. The flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies, while its red berries in the fall attract songbirds.

This vine has oblong, paired leaves. Leaves located at the upper ends of the vines are connected, creating the appearance of one leaf. Mature vines have papery, orange-brown bark that complements the orange-red flowers. This stunning plant is evergreen in warm climates, though in colder climates it is a perennial vine. When planting, it is best to do so in the spring or fall, as the summer heat will stress a new plant. Alternatively, the coral honeysuckle can also be grown in large containers. 

Botanical Name Lonicera sempervirens
Common Name Coral honeysuckle, trumpet honeysuckle
Plant Type Evergreen, perennial, vine
Mature Size 15-25 ft. tall, 15-25 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full, partial
Soil Type Loamy, sandy, clay, well-drained
Soil pH Acidic, neutral
Bloom Time Spring, summer
Flower Color Red, pink, orange, yellow
Hardiness Zones 4-11, USA
Native Area North America
Toxicity Toxic to pets

Coral Honeysuckle Care

The coral honeysuckle has easy care requirements. These plants are easy to maintain, since they prove adaptable to many conditions. It needs well-draining soil and full to partial sunshine. Good air circulation will help prevent disease. Aside from pruning vines that have ventured too far, coral honeysuckle thrives when left to weave and wind on its own.

Providing a trellis is a great way to display the abundant flowers of this plant. To do this, gently help the vine wrap around the trellis as it grows, or lightly tie it to the trellis with twine. This climbing vine can also be allowed to creep along the ground as ground cover. Though honeysuckle is often looked at as an invasive species in the US, coral honeysuckle is actually native in the US. Japanese honeysuckle, on the other hand, is very invasive. The coral honeysuckle is not often troubled by pests or diseases, but they may encounter aphids or powdery mildew.

Light

Providing this plant with full sun will produce the best blooms. Though it can be grown in shade, the plant will not flower as abundantly. 

Soil

Coral honeysuckle needs well-draining soil. As long as this need is met, this plant can adapt to a variety of soil conditions. If the soil does not drain well enough, adding sand can resolve the issue. Coral honeysuckle prefers acidic to neutral soil pH.  

Water

Established plants are very drought tolerant. Regular watering will help promote healthy blooming and is most important for young, establishing plants. Depending on your area, natural rainfall may provide enough water for these plants.

Temperature and Humidity

These plants are both heat tolerant and cold tolerant. Coral honeysuckle can withstand hard frosts and cold temperatures down to USDA zone 4. It prefers medium humidity levels, as high humidity can encourage powdery mildew.   

Fertilizer

Coral honeysuckle appreciates acidic fertilizer during its growing seasons. It does not require large amounts of fertilizer, so occasionally adding some to the soil is enough to keep this plant healthy. 

Pruning Coral Honeysuckle

The only pruning required of coral honeysuckle is any trimming required to maintain a desired shape or size. Pruning is best done after the first big bloom. This will prevent the removal of blossoms that have not bloomed.

Propagating Coral Honeysuckle

Propagation is easily done with softwood cuttings. Take note of these instructions:

  1. Using sharp garden snips, trim a softwood vine that is around 6 inches long. 
  2. Remove the bottom sets of leaves. It is best to have around 2 exposed nodes near the cut end and two sets of leaves at the tip of the cutting. 
  3. At this point, either dip the cut end into rooting hormone and place the cutting in moist soil or place the cutting in water. 
  4. Place the cutting in a sunny location. If kept in water, be sure to change the water regularly. 
  5. As new growth appears and root growth is apparent (tug gently to check for resistance), transfer to your desired planting location.

How to Grow Coral Honeysuckle from Seed

Propagation by seed is another way to grow coral honeysuckle. Here is how to gather and plant seeds:

  1. Remove the berry flesh and place the seeds in the refrigerator for around 3 months for cold stratification
  2. After this, plant the seeds and cover lightly with well-draining, moist soil.
  3. Place a plastic bag or tray over the seeds to retain moisture. 
  4. Keep the soil moist and remove the cover once seedlings appear. 

Potting and Repotting Coral Honeysuckle

To grow coral honeysuckle in containers, be sure to choose a container with good drainage holes. Fill it with a well-draining soil mix and keep it in a sunny location. When the honeysuckle fills the pot and no longer has room to grow, gently tip the pot onto its side to work the plant and its root system free. Place the plant in a slightly larger pot and fill it with fresh soil. 

Overwintering Coral Honeysuckle

Because coral honeysuckle plants are cold tolerant and can withstand hard frost, there is not much required to overwinter these plants. Planting them near structures such as fences or trellises will help shelter them from cold winds. Additionally, adding mulch in the fall will help to insulate the root system from excessively cold temperatures.