How to Grow Northern Bush Honeysuckle

This tough, easy-to-grow plant offers good ground coverage

Close up of flower on a Northern Bush Honeysuckle

US Wildlife and Fish Service, Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

 

A sun-loving, suckering shrub that has impressive color-changing foliage, the Northern Bush Honeysuckle grows densely and can be an impressive addition to hedgerows or garden borders.

Wildlife lovers will enjoy this shrub. The trumpet-shaped yellow flowers bloom over a long period through the summer and attract a variety of pollinators. Birds can often be found nesting in the dense, low-growing thickets too.

Not to be confused with true Honeysuckle, this species is easy to grow, stays low to the ground, and can adapt to a variety of soil and light conditions.

Unlike Honeysuckle, however, although this shrub provides good ground cover, it isn't regarded as being an invasive species.

Often grown on rocky slopes, its expansive root system can help to hold the soil in place effectively.

Botanical Name Diervilla lonicera 
Common Names Northern Bush Honeysuckle, Low Bush Honeysuckle, Dwarf Bush Honeysuckle, or Yellow-flowered Upright Honeysuckle
Plant Type Perennial deciduous shrub
Mature Size Up to 4 foot
Sun Exposure Prefers full sun but can also grow in partial shade
Soil Type Tolerant of various types but prefers it to be fertile and well-drained
Soil pH 6 to 7, but can tolerate higher
Bloom Time Summer (Jun to Aug)
Flower Color Yellow orange
Hardiness Zones 3 to 10
Native Area North America

How to Grow Northern Bush Honeysuckle

Northern Bush Honeysuckle is a versatile and hardy perennial shrub. It can thrive in a variety of light and soil conditions.

It's not a fussy species and will work well for novice horticulturists and those looking to fill expansive open spaces.

Light

Northern Bush Honeysuckle copes well with a variety of light levels. The more light it receives, however, the more impressive the color will be on the foliage.

In summer the leaves are a dense green, and they slowly change to feature yellow, orange, red and even purple shades moving towards fall.

Soil

This shrub is known for coping well even in rocky, poor quality, infertile soils. Sandy, loamy and clay soils will all accommodate the Northern Bush Honeysuckle. Providing it's pretty well-draining, you won't have to be too fussy about this.

Of course, a more fertile, but not overly moist soil will likely produce a healthier, faster-growing shrub with more extensive flowering.

Water

Northern Bush Honeysuckle is impressively drought-tolerant. It does best in a dry to medium soil, so its best to be conservative with any water you offer.

Fully established plants will need little watering, but new growth will benefit from retaining moist soil conditions.

Temperature and Humidity

Northern Bush Honeysuckle is native to northeastern United States, and it does best in cool summer climates and is winter-hardy. It thrives in dry climates with minimal humidity.

Fertilizer

For mature Northern Bush Honeysuckle, fertilization isn't required. If you want to see larger flowers in greater quantity on your shrub, feeding young shrubs can produce better results.

Propagating Northern Bush Honeysuckle

Although growth can occur from cuttings, the Northern Bush Honeysuckle has an extensive, suckering root system which can be utilized for propagation. Dividing the rhizomes (clumps of roots) for replanting produces great results. This type of propagation should be done in spring.

Pruning

Pruning should be carried out either in winter or in the spring before new growth begins. Focus on carefully cutting back the top of the shrub and not removing more than a third of good wood. This can help to promote a healthy shape and new growth.

Being Grown in Containers

It's possible to container-grow Northern Bish Honeysuckle, but given its extensive root system and fast growth rate, growing in the ground is preferable.

Be sure to select a deep, large container and be aware that after a year you may have to replant your shrub into the ground as the root system takes hold.

Growing From Seeds

Any seeds collected or bought will need three months cold stratification before planting. Ideally, you want to sow them somewhere they'll have access to a lot of direct sunlight.

The seeds are very small and do best being sown close to the surface of the soil.