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Lonicera Caprifolium [luh-NIS-er-a, kap-rih-FOH-lee-um] is a type of flowering plant perennial in the genus Lonicera from the family Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle family).
The genus includes a number of North American and European mountain species with a natural habitat of wastelands, forest margins, and broad-leaved forests.
While the plant is native to parts of Europe, it has naturalized in northeastern parts of North America.
Lonicera Caprifolium is easily distinguished from other common species in the family by the unique arrangement of its topmost leaves.
As its Latin name suggests, they are perfoliate – it looks like the stem grows through the center of the leaves.
The uppermost leaves of the plant combine and form a bowl shape under the flowers.
Other than its scientific name it goes by several common names:
- Italian Woodbine
- Italian Honeysuckle
- Perfoliate Honeysuckle
- Perfoliate Woodbine
- Goat-leaf Honeysuckle
The name Lonicera honors the Renaissance botanist Adam Lonicer.
Lonicera Caprifolium Care
Size & Growth
Lonicera Caprifolium is a strong, but deciduous climber growing up to 25’ feet tall.
They climb by twining around other plants.
The flowers reach up to 2” inches in length.
Flowering and Fragrance
Caprifolium bears a large number of fragrant, cream-colored flowers with hints of pink during the mid-summer season.
The flowers grow in terminal clusters and bloom at night.
The flowers of Italian Woodbine are long tube-shaped preventing most insects from reaching its nectar.
Hence, the plant is primarily pollinated only by the night-feeding hawk moths.
Light & Temperature
While this honeysuckle species grows in a wide range of climates, it thrives in slightly warmer and sunny regions.
The roots of the plant thrive in cool soil, which is why it is recommended for spring planting.
The plant needs adequate sunlight for proper growth.
Plants grow in both full sun and partial shade.
United States hardiness zone 5a – 11 (USDA).
Watering and Feeding
Lonicera Caprifolium needs extra water when first planted.
Once established, its water needs are reduced.
For example, if planted in spring (the ideal time), it needs frequent watering until summer.
Once time summer season starts, Lonicera Caprifolium L. requires small amounts of water, even during dry spells.
Continuing to water the plant equally without considering its changing requirement is one of the common mistakes people make.
Overwatering can harm Lonicera Caprifolium.
To ensure proper growth, feed with a slow release fertilizer or organic fertilizer, and mulch with 2” – 3” inches of compost.
Soil & Transplanting
Italian honeysuckles are hardy plants, and they grow in any moist, well-drained soil.
Grooming and Maintenance
Lonicera Caprifolium are climbers and need regular pruning to keep plants in shape and inside their space.
The right time of pruning for this type of Woodbine is after flowering.
How to Propagate Italian Woodbine
Propagate Italian honeysuckles through:
Layering – One of the easiest methods of propagation.
- Perform air layering in spring or autumn.
- Select young and flexible shoots and make a 1” to 2” inch incision at the distance of about a foot from the tip of the shoot.
- The incision should run through a leaf bud and along the stem.
- Make sure to apply a hormone rooting compound on the surface of the incision.
- Bend the shoot and fasten it, with the help of thick wire, into a shallow hole in the soil.
- With this method, it usually takes around a year to develop roots.
- Do not separate the layer from the parent plant until the roots have adequately developed.
Hardwood Cuttings – Carried out in the dormant seasons, i.e., from mid-autumn to late winter, hardwood cuttings are 6” – 12” inches long (15 to 30 cm) and dipped in a hormone rooting powder from the lower end.
Semi-hardwood Cuttings – Taken from the seasonal growth, these types of cuttings should have a hard base and a soft tip.
- The ideal time for semi-hardwood cuttings starts from late summer and lasts till mid-autumn.
- Place the pieced into a plastic bag immediately after cutting and keep in the shade.
- Plant them within 12 hours.
Perfoliate Honeysuckle Pest or Diseases
L. Caprifolium plants are generally disease free.
However, it is the target of a couple of pests, the most common being thrips and aphids.
Aphids are common sap-sucking insects.
They can cause distorted growth and also affect plant vigor.
Some aphids may also transmit plant viruses.
Thrips, on the other hand, cause mottling on flowers and foliage.
Goat-leaf Honeysuckle Uses
The tube-shaped blossoms of the Goat-leaf Honeysuckle are attractive in the spring where it produces its intense sweet fragrance.
Grow as a garden plant vine on a trellis to provide privacy or hide patios.
Brighten up boring walls with their bright green leaves.
Prune plants to keep them manageable and pull the stamens out to taste the honey flavor.
NOTE: The red-orange colored fruit of Lonicera Caprifolium, called honeysuckle berries, should not be eaten by humans as they are known to be poisonous for mammals.