I grew up thinking of honeysuckle as having white frothy flowers full of nectar that faded to yellow with age. As children we learned to suck the nectar out. Only later did I see coral honeysuckle for the first time with its exotic red flowers.
It was later still that I learned that the white honeysuckle that was so common was actually invasive Japanese honeysuckle, an escaped garden flower and noxious weed. The exotic red flowers that I found so beautiful belonged to our native coral honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens.
Also known as trumpet honeysuckle or trumpet vine, this honeysuckle is native to the eastern United States and Canada. Coral honeysuckle grows wild in open woodlands, roadsides, fence rows and the edges of clearings, from Connecticut to Nebraska, and south to Texas and Florida.
It is an evergreen twining climber growing to 20 feet or more through shrubs and young trees. The two-inch leaves grow in opposite pairs. The leaves immediately below the flowers are joined at the base in a complete ring round the shoot. The flowers are two-inch tubes produced in clusters of three. They are bright red to pinkish-red, and pollinated by ruby-throated hummingbirds and insects. Yellow cultivars are now available as well.
Coral honeysuckle is commonly grown as an ornamental plant for its attractive flowers, glossy foliage and bright berries. It is easily grown in well-drained soil and full sun but tolerates shade. Plants grown in shade flower less freely. Coral honeysuckle blooms primarily on the previous year's stems, so prune cautiously. It is generally a low-maintenance plant once it's established, since it is drought tolerant and does not attract any particular pests
This plant is highly attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. Songbirds feed on the fruits. This is a spectacular vine that the local wildlife will enjoy as much as you.