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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - June 14, 2009

From: Yorktown, VA
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources, Vines
Title: Honeysuckle bush for San Antonio, Tx
Answered by: Jackie OKeefe

QUESTION:

I'm looking for a gift for my brother, living in San Antonio. He loves the native honeysuckle that we both remember from our childhoods. I think I'd like to get him a honeysuckle bush rather than a vine, but my research tells me the native southern variety is invasive. True? Would the northern variety be suitable to southern Texas? Where could I purchase one to send of either variety? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Since you are writing from Virginia and make reference to northern and southern varieties of honeysuckle, I'm guessing that the childhood memories are based there... Virginia has five native honeysuckles, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center's Native Plant Database:

Diervilla lonicera(northern bush honeysuckle)

Diervilla sessilifolia (southern bush honeysuckle)

Lonicera dioica (limber honeysuckle)

Lonicera canadensis (American fly honeysuckle)

Lonicera sempervirens (trumpet honeysuckle)

The plant you are thinking may be one of the above. it could also be Lonicera japonica(Japanese honeysuckle), a highly invasive and widespread non-native – fast-growing, difficult to remove and propagated everywhere by birds who consume the berries.

Of those Virginia natives,  Lonicera sempervirens (trumpet honeysuckle) –also known as coral honeysuckle – is  a Texas native as well. This beautiful vine, nearly evergreen in San Antonio, is a great hummingbird attractant and flowers often and profusely. It has the additional attractive feature of NOT being invasive. While it is a vine, it is relatively easy to prune and maintain in a reasonable space.

Another native Texas honeysuckle is the-spring blooming Lonicera albiflora (western white honeysuckle) , a more shrubby honeysuckle, also non-invasive. Its fragrant flowers attract butterflies, and birds like its berries. Deer will browse this plant.

Lonicera sempervirens (trumpet honeysuckle) and Lonicera albiflora (western white honeysuckle) are both commerically available. For specific suppliers, go to the Native Plant Database and select Suppliers which has links to local and regional nurseries, landscapers and seed sources.

 

From the Image Gallery


Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

Western white honeysuckle
Lonicera albiflora

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