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A Floridata Plant Profile 667 Lonicera japonica

Common Names: Japanese honeysuckle, Hall's Japanese honeysuckle, gold-and-silver flower Family: Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle Family)
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Japanese honeysuckle
Japanese honeysuckle is a pretty pest with good looks, enchanting fragrance, and an aggressive growth rate.


Japanese honeysuckle is an extremely vigorous twining and trailing woody vine that can grow more than 30 ft (9.1 m) in length. The leaves are in pairs opposite each other along the stem and are deciduous in cold climates, evergreen in milder areas. They are elliptic to oval, 2-3 in (5-7.6 in) long and half as wide. The flowers are about an i1.5 in (2.8 cm) long, tubular with two widely spreading lips, and borne in pairs. Japanese honeysuckle blooms throughout the entire growing season. The flowers start out white, sometimes tinged with purple, and age to yellow in their second day. They are extremely fragrant. The fruits are blue-black berries about 0.25 in (0.6 cm) in diameter.

Var. chinensis has pubescent leaves and the flower tubes are red on the outside. Var. repens has purplish leaf veins and the flower are flushed with purple. Several cultivars have been selected. 'Aureo-reticulata' has yellow veins in the leaves; 'Halliana' (Hall's Japanese honeysuckle), the most widely grown cultivar, has white flowers that change to yellow, and the upper lip is split in half; 'Superba' has scarlet red flowers; 'Purpurea', which may be the same as var. repens, has purplish leaves, flowers that are purple on the outside, and red fruits.

Despite its beauty Japanese honeysuckle is aggresively invasive in most regions of North America and it will cover, smother and kill adjacent vegetation.


Japanese honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica, is native to eastern Asia and Japan. It has escaped cultivation and now is a weed in every state in the US except AK, WA, OR, ID, MT, WY, CO, ND, SD and MN. It grows along the edges of woodlands, fields and streams in bottomlands and in uplands. It often grows profusely on fencerows along highways. Japanese honeysuckle is a very invasive weed, disrupting natural plant communities and smothering native plant species in much of the eastern US. In the mid-Atlantic states Japanese honeysuckle can be found on practically every fencerow.


Prune after flowering to keep it in bounds. When Japanese honeysuckle becomes overgrown, cut it to the ground and it will grow back quickly. Light: Japanese honeysuckle thrives in full sun to partial shade, and grows quite well in full shade, although it won't flower as much. Moisture: Japanese honeysuckle tolerates drought as well as soggy soils. Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 - 10. Japanese honeysuckle is evergreen in warm climates and deciduous in cold areas. It re-grows quickly when warm weather returns. Propagation: Japanese honeysuckle can be grown from seed planted as soon as it is ripe. Older seed will require cold stratification for several weeks. Japanese honeysuckle also can be propagated by layering. Cram a section of young vine into a pot, so that the part of the vine still attached to the mother plant comes in on one side of the pot, and the tip extends out the other side. Fill the pot with potting medium. Water occasionally and in a couple of months the potted section of vine will have roots, and you can sever the umbilicus to the mother plant.


Japanese honeysuckle is a vigorous, nearly indestructible vine that can be used in a variety of applications. It can be grown as a quick groundcover or planted on banks for erosion control. It grows quickly on a trellis or fence, to provide a sweetly-fragrant screen for privacy or shade. The flowers attract hummingbirds and bees, and the fruits are relished by many kinds of song birds. Japanese honeysuckle has become an important food item for white-tailed deer in the eastern US.

Despite its beauty Japanese honeysuckle is aggresively invasive in most regions of North America and it will cover, smother and kill adjacent vegetation.


In arid climates, Japanese honeysuckle is less invasive and much easier to control. It is a popular and widely used ornamental in Arizona and other parts of the southwestern US. In the humid mid-Atlantic and southeastern US, Japanese honeysuckle can be a rampant weed. In most eastern US gardens, Japanese honeysuckle is considered a pest. It should be used as an ornamental, screen or ground cover only in situations where its spread can be controlled. Japanese honeysuckle can quickly cover other plantings, strangling and smothering them, and even girdling young trees.

There are more than 150 species of Lonicera, a genus widespread in Europe, Asia and North America, that includes evergreen and deciduous shrubs and vines, most of which produce fragrant flowers.


Japanese honeysuckle is listed as an invasive species that is disrupting native plant communities by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, and as a "severe threat" to native plant communities in Tennessee by that state's Exotic Pest Plant Council. In areas that receive more than 30 in (76 cm) of rain per year, Japanese honeysuckle should be cultivated only in situations where its spread can be controlled.

Steve Christman 4/20/00; updated 2/23/04

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Lonicera species profiled on Floridata:

Lonicera fragrantissima

( winter honeysuckle, bush honeysuckle )

Lonicera japonica

( Japanese honeysuckle, Hall's Japanese honeysuckle, gold-and-silver flower )

Lonicera maackii

( Amur honeysuckle, Chinese honeysuckle, bush honeysuckle )

Lonicera sempervirens

( coral honeysuckle, trumpet honeysuckle )

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