Content Detail

Winter honeysuckle is an attractive shrub with early-flowering fragrant flowers. However, under the Illinois Exotic Weed Act, it cannot be sold in Illinois. It is also considered invasive in many areas. The information provided here is for identification purposes rather than a guide to plant selection. This plant is NOT recommended.

  • Family (English) Honeysuckle
  • Family (botanic) Caprifoliaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Medium shrub (5-8 feet), Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, clay soil, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest late winter, early spring
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, White
  • Shape or form Mounded, Multi-stemmed, Round, Thicket-forming
  • Growth rate Fast

Size and form: 

Winter honeysuckle is a coarse, rounded shrub reaching 6 to 10 feet high and wide.

Native geographic location and habitat: 

Winter honeysuckle is native to Eastern China.

Attracts birds and pollinators: 

Butterflies and bees are attracted to the flowers.

Bark color and texture: 

Stems are slender and light tannish-brown.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture: 

Opposite, elliptic to ovate leaves are up to 3 inches long. They are dull blue-green above to lighter underneath.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

Creamy white, two-lipped petaled flowers are very fragrant and lemon scented. Long blooming flowers show in March to April.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

Sparse, 1/4 inch diameter berries are dark red.

Plant care:

Winter honeysuckle is adaptable to many soil types. Best in full sun for flowering, but tolerant of part shade. Prune after flowering to maintain shape. Thin slender branches can become a tangled mass if not pruned regularly. Very early to leaf out in spring. This plant is NOT recommended.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

Leaf spots, mildews, aphids, four-lined plant bug are occasional problems. Resistant to deer.


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