The winter honeysuckle bush was introduced from China during the nineteenth century and quickly became a favourite with gardeners. As its Latin name of Lonicera fragrantissima suggests, this delightful semi evergreen shrub is grown for its profusion of fragrant creamy white flowers. They emerge in succession from the branches throughout the winter months where active bees will make use of the early supply of nectar and pollen. Best planted in a border next to a path or near the house (or even trained on a wall) so the sweetly scented blossom may be appreciated during the short winter days. It certainly lives up to its common name of ‘the sweet breath of spring’.
From spring to autumn winter honeysuckle is covered in rich green leaves often flushed with purple, on graceful curved branches that are flushed purple when they first appear, leaves often remain on the branches through the winter. The abundant small blooms are followed by dull red berries that bring a splash of colour against the dark wine-purple new stems and are popular with birds.
Allowed to grow it will reach a height of 2 metres, if pruning is needed then late March or very early April are ideal times to ensure the most flowers the following year. Flowering stems can be cut and add a scented dimension to any winter flower arrangement.
Very easy to grow in sun or partial shade on any moist but well drained soil this a low maintenance shrub suitable for most gardens. Does well in coastal locations.