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Winter honeysuckle, also known by its scientific name Lonicera fragrantissima, is a bushy shrub that is loved for its fragrant flowers. This semi-evergreen bush can grow to about 6 feet (1.8 m) tall and 10 feet (3.05 m) wide. Although it is native to China, winter honeysuckle may thrive in areas where the temperatures dip as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit (about -28.9 degrees Celsius).
The leaves of the winter honeysuckle are oval in shape and paired on either side of the stem. They can grow to 3 inches (about 7.6 cm) long and are usually dark green on the topside and bluish green on the bottom. The flowers are extremely fragrant and white in color. They are tube-shaped, but only grow to 0.5 inches (about 1.3 cm) long. The flowers usually appear in the winter and early spring months.
Generally, the winter honeysuckle grows best in full to partial sunlight. In addition, it prefers soil that drains well. Some care must be taken to protect this species of shrub from aphids, scale insects, mildew, leaf spots, and other pests and diseases. In addition, since the plant grows almost as wide as it does tall, pruning may be useful to help it keep its shape. When pruning the winter honeysuckle, it is important to remember that the flowers bloom best on old wood, so trimming the new growth first is recommended.
Many people plant winter honeysuckle as a fragrant addition to their landscaping. Also, if its branches are cut and brought inside, any unopened blossoms will open and fill a room with their sweet, lemony fragrance. As a result, it is often added to winter flower bouquets. There have been some instances in which it was used as an additive in cosmetics as well.
Depending on the region, winter honeysuckle may be considered invasive. For example, in the United States it is considered invasive in Tennessee, but not in the states of the Pacific Northwest. Consequently, gardeners should try to keep this shrub within its boundaries and not let it expand too readily.
This shrub can be propagated by planting its red seeds or by planting cuttings of its branches. It also is typically available in most home garden stores. Online garden merchants may offer this shrub as well. It grows easily in most temperate regions, making it a favorite for many home landscapes.