Description & Overview

The ‘Jewel’ Bush Honeysuckle is a variety of our native Diervilla lonicera. This plant is known for its dwarf shrubby form and spreading habit. Thanks to its native heritage, the yellow trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom late spring into early summer draw in a myriad of pollinators. This cultivar was introduced by Mike Yanny and is noted for its beautiful reddish-maroon new growth before the foliage settles to a glossy green.

Core Characteristics

Category: Shrub

Wisconsin Native: No - Variety of North American Native

USDA Hardiness Zone: to Zone 3

Mature Height: 3-5 feet

Mature Spread: 3-5 feet

Growth Rate: Moderate

Growth Form: Suckering. Compact. Spreading.

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade

Site Requirements: Average soils. Drought tolerant.

Flower: Pale yellow

Bloom Period: June to July

Foliage: Glossy green. New growth is reddish-maroon.

Fall Color: Yellow, copper-red

Urban Approved: Yes

Fruit Notes: Woody dehiscent capsules

Suggested Uses

Diervilla lonicera ‘Jewel’ is a low-growing, suckering shrub that can grow in a plethora of different soil types, from sandy soils with a high water table, such as dunes near riverbanks and beaches, to urban conditions such as along walls, fences, walkways or as a foundation planting. This small, mound-shaped shrub will spread to form thickets over time, making it a good choice for massing, hedges, or shrub borders. Its vigorous root system and suckering habit make it excellent for slope erosion control.

It should be noted that this bush honeysuckle is not true honeysuckle. One way to distinguish between the native bush honeysuckle and the invasive honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) is by looking at the stems. Native bush honeysuckles have solid stems, while invasive honeysuckles, such as the Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), have hollow stems.

Wildlife Value

Come early summer, this plant produces pairs and trios of pale yellow, tube-like flowers that appeal to a myriad of pollinators. These tubular flowers have long stamens and pistils which protrude from the flowers. Bumblebees are perhaps the most important visitors, including the federally endangered Rusty-patched bumblebee (Bombus affinis) alongside other bumbles such as the Golden Sweat bee (Augochlorella aurata), Yellow-banded Bumblebee (Bombus terricola), Half-black Bumblebee (Bombus vagans). The unusual hummingbird moth can occasionally be seen visiting the flowers and actual hummingbirds, such as the Ruby-throated hummingbird.

During winter, deer and moose are known to browse twigs and stems. In most cases, this will encourage branching and flushes of new growth. Thickets of Diervilla provide a nice, sturdy shelter for ground-nesting birds such as Killdeer, American Woodcock, and Wilson’s Snipe. Sharp-tailed Grouse also consume the buds and find cover within the shrub.

The fruit is a dry capsule with long filaments that persist to early winter and are desirable to many songbirds and other low-foraging critters.

Maintenance Tips

Diervilla lonicera is a tough, North American native plant that is tolerant of drought and adapts well to urban conditions. This allows this plant to be sited in a wide range of locations. It performs best in full sun to part shade. We recommend watering well to establish new plantings. No follow-up care should be needed. However, plantings may be renewed if necessary by cutting to the ground every few years in early spring.

Pests/Problems

Jewel Bush Honeysuckle has no serious insect or disease problems. It can be affected by common ornamental diseases such as leaf spot and powdery mildew, although these are issues hardly worth mentioning.

Leaf Lore

‘Jewel’ originated as cuttings purchased from Jewel Nursery in Lake City, Minnesota, in the 1980s. According to Mike Yanny, these cuttings performed like they were all the same clone and were sold to us as Diervilla lonicera with no cultivar designation. Mike recognized the potential for a new cultivar because these plants were much more colorful than other Diervilla lonicera he had worked with, displaying a lovely reddish-maroon new growth. The name ‘Jewel’ was selected as the plants were from Jewel Nursery even though they never named it.

The genus Diervilla honors a French surgeon, botanist, and traveler named Dr. Dière de Dièreville. He observed the plant with great interest in his travels to North America in 1699. Upon his return to France in 1700, he introduced the shrub to European culture, with the bush honeysuckle genus eventually being named in his memory by French botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort.

The specific epithet lonicera comes from its resemblance to true honeysuckle.

Companion Plants

Thanks to its adaptability to various soil types and textures, ‘Jewel’ Bush Honeysuckle has many suitable companion plants.

On shaded slopes, possible partners include perennials like:

Woody companion plants for a shady site include:

For dry sites, consider planting alongside:

Combine with plants with a similar habit, such as:

The ‘Jewel’ Bush Honeysuckle is a variety of our native Diervilla lonicera. This plant is known for its dwarf shrubby form and spreading habit…
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Written by Miles Minter