Lonicera periclymenum ‘Serotina Florida’

Often, the garden is shrouded in darkness by the time I return from my evening walk in summer. I forgot my flashlight (again). I forgot to turn on the front door light (again). Street lamps are strictly budgeted in our town (for reasons that shall remain a mystery). But no matter. I can find my way home anyway. All I have to do is follow my nose when Lonicera periclymenum ‘Serotina Florida’ is in blossom.

Brew up an elixir of candy canes dipped in honey spun with a hint of molasses — that’s Lonicera ‘Serotina Florida’. Float it on the air, let it rise above the perfume of fermented salmon that I spray around for the deer. Send it wandering toward the road. Then follow it back to a vine that long ago mounted its arbor (hiding the well-pump head) and sends a few stray wispy squiggles into the sky. Smother that vine in a halo of whisper pink and darker rose-colored trumpets. That’s Lonicera ‘Serotina Florida’.

This isn’t one of those naughty loniceras. Even though this honeysuckle isn’t a native, L. periclymenum isn’t on any invasive plant lists (as far as I can trace) and it truly minds its manners for me. (If anyone knows otherwise, speak now — PLEASE.) In fact, it doesn’t even stretch with the elastic athletics of the native L. sempervirens (alias Spiderman). In this case, just toss the typical vine “first year it sleeps, next year it creeps, etc” dictum to the dogs. Ever since ‘Serotina Florida’ took up its post as a wee thing obtained from Brushwood Nursery (www.gardenvines.com), it has performed full strength. It never hesitated. Upwardly mobile. But that said, it’s more compact than the typical ‘Serotina’. Plus, deer don’t pester it. Zone 4. What’s not to love?

Wait. There’s more. Beyond that heavenly fragrance, there’s the truly endearing little fact that ‘Serotina Florida’ is the first vine in the garden to form leaves. In my garden, it starts action right along with the snowdrops. Just leaves until mid-May. But the leaves and stems are flushed red. Flowers come later and last until midsummer. Then berries, but the berries haven’t caused seedlings (I could make a governor joke, but I won’t).

Mine is happy on a 7 foot trellis. That said, its inter-braided woody stem has the trellis bound into a stranglehold. So maybe you shouldn’t give it your prize rose to hug. Every silver lining has a cloud, I suppose. But I tend to look at (and smell) the silver side.

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12 Responses to Lonicera periclymenum ‘Serotina Florida’

  1. Lisa from PA says:

    I swear I can smell the fragrance from here! What a lovely climber! I have often thought of planting a honeysuckle, but the thought of the woody stems taking over and possibly breaking the trellis, etc, didn’t seem enticing. Seeing the picture though, this one seems as gentle as a short clematis and I like that. Beautiful flowers. Thanks for the link to gardenvines. They are located not too far from me and I hadn’t heard about them before. Will definitely look into ‘Serotina’. Thanks!

    • Tovah Martin says:

      I grow mine on a metal trellis — so no danger of strangulation. Brushwood Nursery has a GREAT collection of vines. I first saw them at a Winterthur sale and have been a fan ever since. I’m going to update this blog because I see that their version — ‘Serotina Florida’ (the one I have) is more compact than the typical ‘Serotina’ which might be a very good trait for you.

  2. Heidi S. says:

    Oohh! I was just reading about this plant the other day. I have several Lonicera Sempervirens that I love except that they don’t have a fragrance. I even made them ‘plant of the week’ this week. When I was looking up varieties I saw several listings for Lonicera ‘Gold flame’ which sounds similar but had mixed reviews because of mildew and aphids. I think I will definitely have to give’ Serotina’ a try. I also grow some invasive honeysuckle on my front porch specifically for their smell. Now if I can get rid of those I can replace them with these!

    I also live pretty close to Gardenvines. I think I will have to look into placing and order. Too bad they don’t allow visitors.

    • Tovah Martin says:

      Isn’t it wonderful how we were both thinking along the same lines, Heidi? I have a L. sempervirens ‘Mandarin’ on the front porch and I love it = it’s not invasive but it’s definitely an athlete. No fragrance whatsoever. Love the color, though. And no problems re: aphids or mildew. Wonder if Brushwood (Gardenvines) is selling at any upcoming events in your neighborhood. I really love their inventory.

  3. alright, not what I expected, but a wonderful vine to highlight. I think too many gardeners sacrifice the joy of growing many a plant because they are deemed pedestrian. I say if the plant has merit, and in this case I would wholeheartedly agree with you that it does, plant it ! I grow 2 honeysuckle vines ((l.periclyman ‘harlequin’ and l.sempervirens’major wheeler’) and especially enjoy the bright spot of foliage the harlequin brings to the corner of the fence it inhabits. I am also glad to see the link to Brushwood which is my go-to place for vines as well. This year I planted a bignonia and a clematis (oshimoro) from there and anxious await their “leaping”.

    • Tovah Martin says:

      And thank you for introducing me to Lonicera ‘Harlequin’, Cheryl. I had no idea that a variegated version existed. I’m thinking it would make a dynamite coupling with the rose-tinted foliage of ‘Serotina Florida’. And join the Brushwood Fan Club!

  4. Tovah, I love the look of this Lonicera! I am always looking for ways to provide vertical accent and I really love the delicate look of this on the iron trellis. So often with vines you get that alien looking blob effect where the plant totally smothers the support, even though you trim it about every ten minutes. And to have fragrance as another dimension…Serotina Florida just went on my “to have” list. Thanks!


    • Tovah Martin says:

      Love that description. How many times have you turned around in the dark to wonder what sort of massive creature has followed you into the garden? Turns out to be the morning glory (everyone check out my guest post on http://www.juniperhillnh.com today). Honestly, ‘Serotina Florida’ is more in the wispy airy dept. According to my Index of Garden Plants, it’s slower growing than the norm.

  5. Lisa from PA says:

    Tovah~ I just purchased two metal three legged trellises for the sole purpose of either clematis or lonicera. Thanks for the idea!

    • Tovah Martin says:

      You go, girl! Can’t think of a better way to get instant verticality. Speaking for the lonicera, it will make haste up that trellis. One year, I had some trouble with clematis burning when they made fresh spring growth and the metal got too cold on a frosty night and then too hot with the sun. But as soon as the metal aged, it was no longer a problem. Hey, I’ve got an idea = how about doing both lonicera and clematis together? What a team! What do you think?

  6. Lisa from PA says:

    That might work. A friend just gave me a cutting of ‘Sweet Autumn’ clematis and I’ve placed the trellis in the middle of a round perennial bed. Will check out my local nursery for lonicera stock first before I go and order anything. I like the idea of growing both~ thanks!

    • Tovah Martin says:

      Wait ’til you smell the sweet autumn clematis, Lisa = it’s the loveliest scent. And the late season seed pods are an added bonus. It’s energetic = some people let it spill out as a groundcover after it’s scaled its trellis.

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