dances with flowers

because life is a garden, and compost happens

Lonicera nitida ‘Baggesen’s Gold’ (Box Honeysuckle) May 1, 2009

Evergreen shrub

Sunset zones 4-9, 14-24; AHS zones 6-9

Although the Brits value it, I’ve heard American gardeners and garden writers sneer at boxleaf honeysuckle for being too common, too rangy, and ‘weedy-looking’ (whatever that means).  I’ve never grown the plain green form, but I’ve tried almost all of the cultivars and can’t imagine an easier, more amenable group. Perhaps the difference of opinion is based on climate, as with so many other plants. Here in my mild, zone 9-10, much-like-England garden, my golden boxleaf honeysuckle’s color, form and performance shines!

Its soft golden coloring adds a welcome bit of light under my sometimes gloomy birches, but the color is never brassy.  Boxleaf honeysuckle is reasonably drought resistant with a good mulch, but don’t expect it to go an entire California summer without supplemental water; a very thorough, deep watering every three weeks or so should take care of it if in the shade and not in extreme heat. Watch  your plant, as their one weak point is a suceptibility to scale; a drought-stressed plant will eventually pests. 

Usually recommended as a foundation plant because it takes so readily to shearing, box honeysuckle makes a fast-growing substitute for boxwood (Buxus spp.).  Keep in mind that ‘fast-growing’ translates to “more shearing”! They make terrific, easy topiaries and are easily held in pots for years.  I had, in fact, planned to keep mine pruned to a nice golden ball. As it has matured however, it has taken on such a graceful, arching form that pruning it would be a sin. A very unexpected and enjoyable aspect of a plant that has found a permanent place on my ‘Wouldn’t Think Of Gardening Without’ list!

At A Glance:

  • No significant wildllife value
  • Neat and clean for use next to paths, buildings, entrances
  • Good overall health; prone to scale when stressed
  • Reasonably drought-resistant
  • Propagates easily by layering
  • Native of southwestern China.

Sources:

  • Lazy S’s Farm
  • Joy Creek
 

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