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Aggressive honeysuckles

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Honeysuckles, considered to be aggressive, invasive shrubs and vines, are listed on the invasive plants list for the Chicago area and Illinois. They are registered because their dense growth produces thick blinds of foliage that keep the sun from other shrubs, young trees and wild flowers. They are considered a threat to a diversified ecosystem and may have a negative effect on some wildlife. They may also be linked to tick-borne diseases.

However, many gardeners consider honeysuckle vines to be beautiful when draped over a fence. These gardeners also enjoy fragrant honeysuckle flowers and their colorful fruits. Some forms of wildlife also enjoy honeysuckles. While garden nurseries continue to sell honeysuckle vines and shrubs, wise gardeners should look for the least aggressive varieties or choose equally beautiful alternative plants, like American wisteria.

Honeysuckles belong to the CAPRIFOLIACEAE family, the genus Diervilla or Lonicera and the order Dipsacales. The plant is native to North American open woodlands in Zones 5-8. Species are suckering, deciduous shrubs or climbing vines. They produce two-lipped flowers on subsidiary or terminal clusters. Their simple, toothed leaves have oblong, lance-shaped or oval leaves. They require full or partially sunny locations.

The following aggressive honeysuckles are registered on the Illinois Invasive Plants List: Amur honeysuckle, Tatarian honeysuckle, Japanese honeysuckle, Morrow’s honeysuckle, Standish’s honeysuckle, showy fly honeysuckle, Bell’s honeysuckle, goldflame honeysuckle, fly honeysuckle, dwarf honeysuckle and honeysuckle. If you like honeysuckles, choose varieties that are not on this list. There are many available.

All honeysuckles are not the same. This family of shrubs and vines contains many varieties that are neither aggressive nor invasive. Gardeners who love honeysuckles would be wise to choose the non-invasive kinds. They can also grow lovely alternative shrubs and vines.

Live long and well—garden.

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