Honeysuckle varieties abound

Published on July 27, 2013
In St. John’s, a typical wooden archway straddles a path leading from a lawn to a patio. It has on the left and overhead a  fine honeysuckle in bloom with cream-and-red flowers and, at its base, pinks in bloom. On the right is a clematis partially in bloom with purple flowers and, at its base, Hostas coming into bloom. If not kept in check, both shrubs can become overgrown and block part of the pathway. — Photo by J.J. Strong/Special to The Telegram

Honeysickle (Lonicera) is a large group of shrubs that can be climbers or, in some cases, shrubs or hedges. The foliage varies in shades of green; while most are deciduous, a few are evergreens.

The flowers range in colour from cream red, orange and purple, and the flowers may be tubular or bowl shaped.  As with most plants today, they originated from the wild and have been hybridized and bred into the plants offered today. They originate from various parts of the world.

The British common honeysuckle or woodbine (L. periclymenum) and its varieties may reach 20 feet (6.09 m) in length, with trumpets of red-purple flowers outside and cream inside. The Early Dutch (belgica) or the Late Dutch honeysuckle (serotina) have larger red flowers.  From Japan comes L. japonica, with yellow flowers.  L. americana is sometimes called L. italic or L. grata and has large fragrant red or yellow flowers. There are numerous other varieties and hybrids.

Site and Soil. Honeysuckle enjoys sun or shade, and general soil which is fertile and has peat. etc., added to keep moist. Prune after flowering and include a few of the old stems. Propagation is by layering, or taking cuttings.


Clematis is another large range of climbers, with many species and hybridizations. Most are deciduous, but a few are evergreen.

Site and Soil. They like the sun on the stems of the plants, but prefer their roots in the shade. The soil should be general, but rich and moist. Pruning depends upon the variety; some require this in the spring, while others in the fall, so keep your plant tags. Propagation can be by layering, cuttings or seedlings. However, seedlings may not be true to their parents.

Reader questions

At this time of the year, there are several perennial problems that crop up in readers’ gardens.

A reader phoned to say her cala lily (zantedeschia), which had been overwintered, was getting too large at that time. Will it flower this year?

A: This is treated as an indoor plant, but with recent climate change, some gardeners are trying it outdoors in summer. It flowers on very tall stalks and maybe that was worrying the reader.

The normal method is to plant the rhizomes or offshoots in the fall using 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) pots, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) below the surface. Keep the soil moist, in a temperature in winter of not less than 50 F, in a bright light, but not direct sun, and give it plenty of space.

Once the plants develop their large leaves, provide plenty of water. After flowering in spring-summer, reduce the watering, the same as with most plants. When the foliage has turned yellow, store dry until restarting next fall, when it should bloom again.


Last week I saw some beetroot in a vegetable plot in the city. Some looked very healthy, but quite a lot were sad as they were suffering from leaf miner (mangold fly). These tiny white grubs tunnel inside the leaves between the two surfaces. Blisters, which are the result of tunnelling, appear on the leaves.

Treat with insecticide. If left, the leaves will turn brown and shrivel, and growth will be reduced.

J.J. Strong is a longtime member of the Newfoundland Horticultural Society.