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Dozens of species, evergreens, deciduous and climbing plants belong to the lonicera genus; in garden borders two species are mainly used, L. pileata and L. nitida. These are evergreen shrubs, originating in Asia; they have small alternate leaves, dark green, glossy and waxy; in May-June they produce small cream-colored flowers, followed by dark berries. Lonicera have a fairly slow development and reach 70-90 cm in height; they have a semi-prostrated and enlarged form, with very disordered but dense and compact branches. It is used in hedges and low borders. There are varieties with a variegated leaf or lemon yellow color. To maintain a rounded shape it is advisable to prune the plants at the end of winter or in autumn; the hedges of lonicera they are also suitable for topiary art.
Lonicera, commonly known as honeysuckle, is a plant of the caprifoliaceae genus. Generally speaking, they are creepers or shrubs, usually deciduous, which can reach up to 25 meters in height (although they generally range from 2 meters to 8 meters).
It must be said that all the exponents of this genus have great virtues. In some the major is the aesthetic beauty of branches and flowers. In others, (especially the Lonicera caprifolium) is the perfume, symbol of spring itself and still used today in the perfume sector for its warm and enveloping notes.
Honeysuckle cultivation is not at all difficult. To succeed well you simply have to try to reproduce as much as possible the conditions in which it grows naturally in nature. This means an area not too exposed to the sun and heat, a rich and moist, but well-drained substrate.
|Family and gender|
Caprifoliaceae, gen. Lonicera, about 180 species
|Type of plant||Creeper or shrub with a persistent or deciduous leaf|
|Exposure||Foot in the shade, well-lit hair|
|Rusticitа||Usually rustic, but depends on the species|
|Ground||Rich, moist, well-drained, possibly neutral or sub-acid|
|colors||white, cream, yellow, pink, red, orange flowers, green leaves, glaucous, bronze, cream|
|Irrigation||Frequent in hot periods|
|Composting||From spring to autumn, depending on the species|
They are placed in a sunny or semi-shaded place; they do not fear the cold and the summer heat; due to the great resistance to salt and air pollution, these shrubs are also widely used in the town's flower beds, even near the sea.
The best exposure is almost always North-West. It should be treated like all forest plants and therefore the ideal is to be able to place it where it has its foot in the shade and the foliage in the sun. In this way the roots will always be kept cool, while the aerial part will receive abundant light thus favoring good growth and flowering.
In any case we avoid too hot locations that could favor the advent of parasites (such as aphids or red spider mites). In particular we do not use this essence to cover sunny walls.
Usually they are satisfied with the rains, enduring without problems even long periods of drought. The plants just placed to stay need regular watering at least for the first summer. Be careful to avoid excess watering.
Irrigations should always be abundant during the growing season (especially in the absence of precipitation). Make sure that the substrate is always slightly damp (but without stagnation). Particularly during the summer this can involve numerous weekly interventions, especially if we live in the lowlands, in the Center-South or in coastal areas.
Lonicas develop in any terrain, even in the common garden soil. They prefer rich, loose and well-drained soils and are ill-suited to soils that retain a lot of moisture.
They are not particularly demanding shrubs. We can say that to have excellent results we must certainly give them a substrate rich in humus, deep, capable of retaining humidity, but not heavy.
Therefore only excessively poor soils (such as sandy ones) or too compact or clayey are to be avoided. The ideal is a forest land rich in organic matter and with a neutral or slightly acid pH.
it happens by seed or by cutting; in general the prostrate stems tend to root as soon as they touch the ground, it is possible to detach these small plants from the mother plant and position them directly.
Pests and diseases
They are generally quite resistant to pests and diseases; sometimes they can be affected by root rot or aphids.
The genus includes about 180 species native to the entire northern hemisphere. Their natural habitat is the wooded mountainous areas: they are easily found from about 600 meters of altitude up to 4000 (in the Himalayan area).
In our peninsula nine species are considered endemic: the implexa, the caprifolium, the Etruscan, the peryclimenum, the alpigen, the xilosteum, the nigra and the caerulea.
Traditionally in Italy this plant has always been called honeysuckle, but the genus was named lonicera by Linnaeus in honor of the German doctor Lonitzer.
History of the Lonicera
The introduction in cultivation is quite ancient. The first hints of an ornamental use can already be found in the 13th century, in England. It was mainly used to cover structures such as kiosks or pergolas, where it was pleasant to stay because of the sweet smell. Around the 1700s, we sought out more refined, compact and domesticated species. Some species were then imported from the Far East and the American continent.
Almost all lonicas are rustic. This means that they can easily withstand temperatures up to -15 / -20 ° C. However, the minimum can significantly affect the persistence of the leaves. Some varieties will be evergreen everywhere, others only in some areas. However, there are also deciduous species everywhere.
They are not strictly necessary, especially if the soil is already rich in organic matter.
In any case, it is always a good practice to mulch the specimens' foot with flour manure in November. At the arrival of spring we can add a handful of granular fertilizer for fruit plants (with a good content of nitrogen and potassium) in order to stimulate both vegetative growth and flower production.
The best time for this operation is undoubtedly the autumn, but it can proceed until late spring (especially if the plant is in pot).
We choose a suitable location and dig a rather deep hole, breaking the walls with a pitchfork. Insert the plant after creating a drainage layer with gravel. If necessary, we enrich or raise the soil to be reinserted. We irrigate abundantly and continue for at least two months with frequent interventions (avoiding only during the frost period).
It is important to point out that this shrub is not capable of attaching itself to smooth structures such as walls because it clings through fickle stems and is not supplied with suction cups (like ivy instead). It is therefore very important to provide a support structure with sturdy steel cables, wooden poles or metal structures so that the plant can wrap around. We avoid however to make it climb on trees or other vegetables because, in the time, it could seriously damage them.
Honeysuckle doesn't really need to be pruned. The ideal is to intervene after the winter to eliminate dry, sick or misdirected branches. We always avoid intervening on the main branches.
However, it can happen that a specimen is dried up to the base. This should not alert us because it is a characteristic periodism: we intervene cutting cleanly almost to the foot. In a short time we will see new shoots spring up and the plant will be completely renewed.
It is a deciduous creeper that can reach 7 meters in height and is spontaneous throughout our peninsula. It blooms between June and July producing bunches of flowers, tubular, white-yellow, very fragrant. In autumn these evolve into bright red berries. It fits well in positions from half-shade to shade.
Creeper originating from the Mediterranean regions depending on the variety, it may have persistent or deciduous leaves. Resists well up to -20 ° C. Very decorative both for the foliage tends to glaucous, and for the young shoots with reddish shades. The flowers are yellow suffused with red, very abundant and deliciously scented. It reaches 7 meters in height.
Native to China and Japan, it has a climbing habit (up to 12 meters), with persistent leaves in temperate climates. It grows quickly and produces abundant fuchsia flowers inside and cream on the outside, with a pleasant fragrance. In autumn they evolve into dark blue berries. Cultivar:
Mint Crisp with oval leaves, spotted with light green and cream, white flowers, up to 3-4 meters
halliana white flowers, then yellow, very fragrant. Leaves shiny and tapered, often persistent. It grows quickly up to 10 meters
Hall's Prolific first white flowers, then yellow ones that can evolve into black berries. The scent is intense. It blooms long, abundantly, and even growth is fast (up to 10 meters)
Aureoreticulata it has light green, semi-persistent oval leaves. The primary and secondary veins are instead yellow, creating a beautiful contrast. The flowers are first white, then yellow, perfumed. It grows up to 10 meters.
chinensis it has dark green leaves, persistent in central-southern Italy, and pink and yellow flowers. Its scent is exceptional. It also reaches 10 meters in height. Widespread.
Lonicera peryclimenum it blooms depending on the climate in spring (in the South) or in autumn (in the North). In Italy it is spontaneous only in the North-East, in Liguria and some areas of Tuscany. It has oval leaves glaucous green, deciduous. The flowers, perfumed, are grouped in terminal bundles and are also suitable for cutting. The color is yellowish white with pink shades. Up to 7 meters high. And much loved plant in the UK. Cultivar:
Belgica white flowers with pink shades that then turn yellow. In autumn it produces red berries. Up to 7 meters high
serotina late flowering, but can last until autumn. The petals are cream and white, with hints of red and pink. It grows vigorously up to 8 meters.
Graham Thomas it has persistent foliage almost everywhere. The flowers are yellow, cream and white, very abundant and fragrant.
Lonicera sempervirens plant native to North America arrived in Europe in the mid-1600s. It is a vigorous shrub, with rapid and basically evergreen growth. However, it is not completely rustic as it can start to suffer already at -10 ° C. The leaves are a nice bluish green and the flowers are not fragrant. It can however be said that they are lively and spectacular in full bloom. They are about 5 cm long, tubular, in groups of 6. The color is a bright orange scarlet, with the inside suffused with yellow. It grows up to 8 meters.
Lonicera nitida it is a shrubby form. It blooms between June and July and reaches a maximum height of 4 meters. It comes from China, from very high altitudes and is therefore very resistant. It is an evergreen shrub, compact, very suitable for forming hedges. The young stems have a beautiful purple tinge. The leaflets are small, dark green and leathery. The flowers are very small and white. In autumn it produces globose fruits of purple color. Excellent alternative to boxwood.