Limber Honeysuckle

Lonicera dioica

Description & Overview

Limber Honeysuckle is a low-growing Wisconsin native vine that’s shrub-like with arching branches. In late spring, expect a display of showy red, stalk-less flowers with yellow stamens. Afterward, it forms green fruits that mature to a vibrant red-orange color. A deciduous plant, its glossy green leaves turn yellow in fall before falling off. The long, cone-shaped, red flowers attract hummingbirds and other pollinators, while the berries are desirable to birds.

Native to Canada and central to the eastern United States, this variety of honeysuckle is considered non-invasive, but the fruit is poisonous to humans.

Core Characteristics

Mature Height: 10 feet
Mature Spread: Varies
Growth Rate: Fast
Growth Form: Vine
Light Requirements: Partial Shade to Full Shade
Site Requirements: Moist, Dry
Flower: Red with yellow stamens
Bloom Period: May-June
Foliage: Glossy dark green
Fall Color: Yellow
Fruit Notes: Red-orange berries

Suggested Uses:

Limber Honeysuckle, also called Wild Honeysuckle, is commonly found in boggy areas and other wet sites at high elevations in coniferous and deciduous woods or in thickets with sandy or rocky soils. It is versatile and can be used in many ways.

  • Border (through medium sized shrubs to act as groundcover)
  • Container gardens (as groundcover or to keep the vine contained)
  • Cut flower garden (flowers are beautiful and make nice additions to any bouquet)
  • Espalier (there is not much depth in the z-direction, but it grows full in the x and y directions)
  • Groundcover (for areas where grass can be out of the question, or some color is wanted); just don’t trellis it
  • Privacy screen (adds beauty and density to a fence)
  • Specimen (showy flowers are enough to attract anyone’s attention and create a focal point in any garden)
  • Urban garden (similar reasoning as espalier, this vine does not take up as much space and can tolerate limited horizontal area as long as there is room for vertical growth)
  • Woodland garden (climb tree trunks if the garden is near the woods)

Wildlife Value:

Flowers are attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees. It is a host plant for the Snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris diffinis), Laurel Sphinx (Sphinx kalmiae), Poecila Sphinx (Sphinx poecila), Apple Sphinx (Sphinx gordius), Brown-lined Sallow (Sympistis badistriga), and Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe). A nectar and pollen source, it attracts the Achemon Sphinx (Eumorpha achemon), Tersa Sphinx (Xylophanes tersa), and Abbott’s Sphinx (Sphecodina abbottii).

It is primarily pollinated by the Eastern Bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) and the American Bumble bee (Bombus pensylvanicus), as well as by Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

Berries are attractive to birds and native wildlife.

Maintenance Tips:

Prune spent flowers to promote repeat bloom and prune back in the winter to increase flowering the following year. Limber Honeysuckle can be severely pruned, if necessary, to control the size. This is best done in fall or winter when the plant is dormant.


Honeysuckle in general have no known serious issues.

Most plants can be prone to common, ornamental (non-lethal) issues caused by various environmental conditions. Clematis may be susceptible to wilt/stem rot (potentially fatal), powdery mildew, leaf spots, rust, and viruses. Potential insect pests include aphids, vine weevils, slugs, snails, scale, and earwigs. Watch for spider mites. Alleviate these common issues with over-the-counter insecticides or pesticides.

Leaf Lore:

The genus Lonicera is named for Adam Lonicer, a German botanist known for his passion for herbs and botany. The specific epithet dioica came from the idea that male and female flowers were on separate plants, although this is now an erroneous notion.

This plant was first cultivated in 1636.

Indigenous people used the vine to treat fevers, tuberculosis, menstrual difficulties, kidney stones, worms, and to throw off the effects of love medicine. However, the berries are inedible and cause moderate nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The hollow stems were used as straws by Cree children.

Companion Plants:

Peony, Coneflower, Bee Balm, other tall perennials.

  • Peony (provide contrast in flower shape and adds color)
  • Coneflowers (attracts pollinators and adds color)
  • Bee Balm (attracts pollinators, adds color)
  • Tall perennials (add depth because this is a short vine isn’t as vibrant as some bright color perennials)

Combine with other hummingbird-friendly plants to draw all the Ruby-throateds such as:

Trees and shrubs also make great companions and attract hummingbirds. Consider planting:

Other fragrant flowers that pair well include:

  • Wisteria (Wisteria spp.)
  • Lavender (Lavandula spp.)
  • Spice Island™ Koreanspice Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii ‘J.N. Select A’)
  • Ann Magnolia (Magnolia x ‘Ann’)
  • Blizzard Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii ‘Blizzard’)
  • Common Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus)
  • Swamp Rose (Rosa palustris)
  • Carol Mackie Daphne (Daphne x burkwoodii ‘Carol Mackie’)

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