Coral honeysuckle, or Lonicera sempervirens, is in many ways the perfect vine. It flowers over much of the growing season, is adaptable and fast growing without being a thug like its invasive cousin, Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), and best of all it is a great wildlife plant, attracting and feeding butterflies, caterpillars, and birds.
Before you go out and build or buy an elaborate pergola or trellis, this easy, low-cost project may be just what you need to get your coral honeysuckle off the ground and add a little creativity to your garden.
Use this list as a guide. Thicker, taller, or metal posts can be used, but it is important that the wood is treated so it doesn’t rot prematurely.
- Post – 4 in. x 4 in. x 8-10 ft. tall
- Crossbar – 2 in. x 4 in. x 4 ft. long
- Wire or plastic netting (optional – for deer protection)
The crossbar idea came to me by accident while I was installing a post for a coral honeysuckle outside my daughter’s window and she needed somewhere to hang her hummingbird feeders. A year later the feeders were covered up, but the crossbar created the perfect horizontal platform for the stems to cascade down on each other.
Attaching the crossbar
Attach the crossbar to the post using nails or screws, and then secure two pieces of wood on either side of the post, which will provide added support and stability.
Digging the hole
Digging the hole is probably the hardest part of this project. An 18 to 24 in. deep by 8 to 12 in. wide hole should secure an 8 ft. tall post. Once the post is in the hole, pack the soil in tightly around post. If you want a more permanent and sturdier structure, use concrete instead of soil to fill the hole.
Training up the post
Training the coral honeysuckle up the post can be done by simply tying the loose stems to the post with twine until they reach the top.
Protecting from deer
The soft and tender growth of coral honeysuckle presents a problem for those who have deer. Putting a 4 ft. or higher temporary cage spaced at least 18 in. out from the post will protect the plant until it is above deer browsing height. Also, consider using a taller 10 ft. post which will keep the top third of the vine up and above their trail of destruction.
A couple of tips on growing an awesome coral honeysuckle
- Once established, plants are drought tolerant and don’t require regular irrigation
- "The more sun, the more flowers" is an old adage that applies here.
- If possible, plant close to a south-facing wall or building where year-round reflected sun will reward you and hummingbirds with a plant completely covered in flowers
To learn more about coral honeysuckle or to buy plants, visit our online store.