There are about 180 species of honeysuckle (Lonicera), an ornamental climber and shrub that is native to temperate zones globally. About 20 of these are found in North America, though unfortunately because honeysuckle grows so easily, it tends to become invasive. But a little bit of extra maintenance keeping the plants under control is worth the effort when it blooms.
There are various types of honeysuckle including shrubs, bushes, and honeysuckle vines, all of which attract butterflies and birds. Flowering times vary according to species, but if you plant different varieties, you will have fragrant flowers the whole year-round. Of course, though, each honeysuckle plant will flower at a different time.
When Does Honeysuckle Bloom?
Many types of honeysuckle in the Lonicera genus flower in spring. Some varieties continue flowering right through the summer into early fall.
Here are a few examples:
Early Spring Blooms
In spite of the fact that it is called winter honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima (see Winter Blooms below) is one of the sweetest smelling honeysuckle plants to flower in early spring. It grows up to about 6-10 feet tall in just about any type of soil and is a very low-maintenance plant.
Mid Spring Blooms
Tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica Alba) is another shrub that produces white flowers. It has been naturalized in many western and northern states and is listed as invasive by the Midwest Invasive Plant Network.
Much more garden-friendly, the yellow honeysuckle (Lonicera flava), is a vine that bears lovely orange-yellow flowers between April and May. This is one climbing honeysuckle that isn’t invasive, and it does well in zones 5-8. Better still, if you are looking for climbing honeysuckle of substance, this one will grow from 10 to 20 feet high.
Late Spring Blooms
Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), commonly called trumpet honeysuckle, is an orange to red flowering species that blooms in May and June in zones 4-9. Its flowers have, expectedly, a slim trumpet shape!
Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera Japonica) blooms from late spring and early summer in the U.S. plant hardiness zones from 4-10. It has sweet-smelling white flowers tinged with purple that eventually fades to yellow.
It’s a beautiful plant that grows well in zones 4-9, but it’s listed in the Invasive Plants Atlas of the U.S. as being invasive in the midwest and across the eastern parts of the country.
Known as woodbine or European honeysuckle, Lonicera periclymenum Serotina blooms from July through to the frost in fall. It has stunning white and yellow flowers that are red on the outside.
Woodbine grows well in the U.S. hardiness zones 5-9 but it’s considered to be invasive in Maine and North Carolina.
Although not Lonicera, the lovely Cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) is worth mentioning for its beautiful flowers that bloom from early fall into winter in zones 9-11. There are several different species that have different color blooms including orange, yellow, apricot, and a deep scarlet hue.
Known as fragrant and winter-flowering honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima is a bushy honeysuckle shrub with white, fragrant flowers. It grows in well-drained soil, and thrives in sunny locations in plant hardiness zones 4-8 but is considered invasive in some states including Tennessee and Virginia.
Sakhalin honeysuckle is a deep red flowering shrub. It’s very similar to winter honeysuckle, but it’s not invasive.
How long does it take honeysuckle to bloom?
Honeysuckle vines and bushes are fast-growing plants but they commonly take about three years before they bloom. Once they’ve started to bloom, you should get flowers every year.
Why is my honeysuckle not blooming?
If honeysuckle is not fully established, it may not bloom. But there are a few other reasons why you may not have flowers.
One of the reasons honeysuckle doesn’t bloom is because it’s been fed with a fertilizer that contains a lot of nitrogen. Generally, nitrogen will result in lovely lush foliage but few, if any, flowers.
Another reason it may not be blooming is if you cut it back at the wrong time, or pruned too much of the plant. Honeysuckle that has been cut back hard often doesn’t flower for several seasons while it recovers.
Conversely, if you haven’t pruned your honeysuckle plant, you might find that this is the reason
Another reason may be that it’s not getting enough sunlight. Honeysuckle are true sun lovers!
Finally, make sure you are giving your honeysuckle enough water. If the soil is too dry, it probably won’t reward you with flowers.
Tips to Help Honeysuckle Bloom?
Here are three top tips to help your honeysuckle bloom year after year.
Tip 1: Fertilizer
Fertilize your honeysuckle plant with a 5-10-5 fertilizer that is low in nitrogen but high in phosphorus. Do this lightly early in spring, and then again in the middle of its flowering season.
Tip 2: Pruning
Be aware of the differences between the different types of honeysuckle.
For instance, Japanese honeysuckle flowers on the shoots of the current season, so it’s best to prune it late in winter or early spring.
Common honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) produces its flowers on the side shoots that grew during the previous growing season. If you prune this type of honeysuckle in spring, it wouldn’t flower at all!
Winter honeysuckle also blooms on growth from the previous growing season, so prune it once it’s stopped flowering and it’ll reward you with pretty, lemon-smelling white flowers the following winter.
Tip 3: Grow in Full Sun
Honeysuckle that gets about six hours of sun a day tends to produce more flowers.
Different types of honeysuckle plants bloom at different times of the year. Similarly, as you will see from these useful garden tips for 2023, you can plant different types of honeysuckle that will flower in every season.
By planting different species, you can have honeysuckle flowers in your garden all year round.
But when you choose which honeysuckle to plant in your garden, don’t only be guided by when they will bloom. Also, look at the flowers your plants will produce.
The best honeysuckle flower types are bold and beautiful, and wonderfully fragrant. Enjoy!