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Bush honeysuckle

Green and crimson foliage and flowers of northern bush honeysuckle
Northern bush honeysuckle

Bush honeysuckles (Diervilla spp.) are easy-to-grow, low-growing, suckering plants. They are adaptable to many soil types and all light levels.

Because of their suckering habits, these plants are good for mass plantings, hedges or on slopes for soil stabilization and erosion control. Bush honeysuckle's tolerance to drought and soil compaction provides additional landscape benefits.

Although deer browse on bush honeysuckle in the wild, they rarely feed on the plant in landscape plantings.

Green and white variegated 'Cool Splash' honeyusckle
'Cool Splash' southern bush honeysuckle


  • Deciduous; leaves drop in fall
  • Height: 3 to 5 feet
  • Width: 3 to 5 feet
  • Rounded, mounded, spreading growth habit
  • Fast growth rate
  • In spring, 2-6" leaves develop; new leaves are dark red and then change to green with bronze tones
  • Clusters of two to seven small, non-fragrant, tubular orange or red flowers bloom from June through September; most of the bloom occurs in June and July
  • Flowers attract bumblebees, butterflies, moths and hummingbirds
  • Small beaked non-ornamental capsules containing seed mature from July to September
  • In fall, foliage of northern bush honeysuckle turns yellow, orange, red or purple while fall color of southern bush honeysuckle is often lacking
    Brown non-ornamental seed capsule on stem of bush honeysuckle plant
    Non-ornamental seed capsule

Growing bush honeysuckle

  • Hardiness zone: 3, 4 to 7
  • Does well in sun to full shade
  • Soil pH 6.1 to 6.5, tolerates higher; Have your soil tested by the U of M Soil Testing Lab
  • Adaptable to sand, loam or clay soils
  • Dry to moist soil, excessively drained to moderately drained soils

Common problems

  • No serious pests

  • Leaf spot and powdery mildew may occur

Green northern bush honeysuckle growing in yard
Northern bush honeysuckle

Cultivated varieties of bush honeysuckle for Minnesota

Two bush honeysuckle species are available to gardeners. Both species are very similar in the landscape except for differences in hardiness and fall foliage coloration.

  • Northern bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera) - a Minnesota native whose range extends from Newfoundland to Georgia and west to Saskatchewan and Alabama; hardy to zone 3
  • Southern bush honeysuckle (D. sessilifolia) - native to North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama; hardy to zone 4
    • ‘Butterfly’ - no variegated foliage; extended bloom period
    • ‘First Edition® Cool Splash®’ - variegated foliage; no extended bloom period

Beth Berlin, former Extension educator; Kathy Zuzek, former Extension educator; and Julie Weisenhorn, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2018

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