Gold Flame HoneysuckleLonicera × heckrottii 'Gold Flame'
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Lonicera × heckrottii 'Gold Flame'
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Gold Flame Honeysuckle is a twining woody plant that grows between 10 and 15 feet tall, wrapping itself around any support, from a trellis or fence to a pergola or gazebo. The fragrant flowers are purple-pink with a flaring golden yellow mouth, and blooms begin in June and continue into the fall. It can be grown on walls behind other plants, enriching your garden without taking up more room. It can be grown in a tub on a patio or balcony.
Full sun or a little partial shade is perfect for the Gold Flame Honeysuckle, which will grow well in any well-drained soil, preferring a richer and moist soil, but growing well in drier conditions too. It normally has no significant pests or diseases and it is easy to grow. Trim in late winter or early spring for a climbing plant, or grow it as a 6-foot shrub by trimming in summer.
A great way to enrich the planting in your garden is by ‘going vertical’. Using existing walls and fences, or adding pergolas, gazebos and other structures, or simply driving a few stakes into the ground to make a tepee – all of these are ways of growing plants up, but not out. This can be especially valuable in smaller gardens, courtyards, and even on patios and balconies, where space really is at a premium. There is a whole world of climbing plants out there to decorate these vertical surfaces with, and one of the most attractive, as well as one of the easiest and most cold-resistant, is the Gold Flame Honeysuckle. Often growing to 15 feet tall, this twining plant flowers for months, with profuse clusters of purple-pink and yellow blooms, fragrant with the scent of vanilla. Loved by hummingbirds too, this glorious plant will bring beauty, color and scent to any vertical surface, taking up almost no extra room from your garden.
The Gold Flame Honeysuckle is a twining woody plant, with long stems that can grow up to 15 feet long, wrapping themselves around any suitable support, from trellis and fencing to shrubs and trees. Young stems are light red, developing gray-beige bark that sheds in long strips, and they are flexible when young, becoming more woody and rigid as they mature. The leaves are smooth and round, about 3 inches long, and they sit right on the stem, without a leaf stalk. Leaves on younger stems are joined together making a circle, and it looks like the leaf is passing through the center of the leaf (this is called ‘perfoliate’). The color is green with a bluish tone, especially on the underside, and they are smooth and lustrous. Deciduous in cooler areas, the leaves often stay all winter in warm zones, making this plant semi-evergreen.
The flowers are carried in circular clusters or whorls, around the upper stems. Flowering begins in June and continues at least until late August, and often well into the fall months as well. Clusters contain many flowers, and each one is 2 inches long, a slender tube flaring out at the end like a trumpet, with a broad upper lip and a narrow lower one. The buds and the outside of the flowers are rich purple pink, and when they open they are briefly white, quickly turning golden yellow, decorated with long, protruding stamens and stigma. The flowers give out a delicious vanilla-like scent that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. After flowering inedible red berries may develop by fall.
Wherever you have a blank wall, or an empty fence, then you can cover it with foliage and gorgeous flowers all summer. You can attach a simple trellis to support it, or stretch some wires across the wall, and of course on a wire or open wooden fence no additional support is needed. Grow this plant up a pergola, or gazebo, or on any vertical or horizontal surface you have available. In a courtyard it can be planted in a large pot or tub and grown up the wall even if you have no garden beds at all. If you have no suitable support, drive 3 or 4 long stakes into the ground in a circle in a bed, and tie the top together like a tepee – it makes a wonderful feature in a bed. If you wish you can also grow the Gold Flame Honeysuckle as a free-standing bush, by trimming the long shoots to encourage more, shorter stems, and allowing the older stems to become woody enough to hold themselves up, perhaps with just a few short stakes.
The Gold Flame Honeysuckle is completely hardy in zone 5, and it will grow well in all warmer areas too, right into northern Florida and southern California.
A warm, sunny spot will give the best growth and most profuse flowering, but a few hours of shade each day will still mean you can enjoy lots of beautiful flowers. It will grow well in any well-drained soil, and richer soils, prepared with plenty of rich organic material, will give the best growth.
Regular watering, and mulch in spring to keep the roots cool and moist, will give the best growth. Check for insects on young stems, which can be easily removed with a jet of slightly soapy water. Other insects and diseases are rare. A light pruning in early spring, cutting back some of the longest stems, and removing any over-crowded branches, will keep your plant looking great and flowering profusely, but you can also leave it to grow more or less naturally. Pruning in summer will make it more shrub like, so do this or not, depending on what you want from this plant.
There are many species and varieties of honeysuckle, both shrubs and climbing plants, but only a few are widely grown in gardens. Sometime before 1895, in America, someone brought two species together to create a new honeysuckle. They took Lonicera x americana, a natural hybrid shrubby plant originally found in southern France, and crossed it with Lonicera sempervirens, a semi-evergreen vigorous twining plant from North America. Called Lonicera x heckrottii, it is commonly called the goldflame honeysuckle. We are not sure who Heckrott was. Sometime last century, at the Willis Nursery in Ottawa, Kansas, an improved version that climbs more vigorously than the original was created, perhaps by repeating the original cross. It was named ‘Gold Flame’. To avoid the obvious confusion this created, some people have suggested that this plant should be called ‘American Beauty’, which describes it perfectly.
This plant was given the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society of the UK in 2011, an award that is only given to outstanding plants. You are going to love growing this gorgeous climbing shrub, but order now, because this is a plant that is always in high demand, and we know our limited supply will not last long.