Category Archives: Flower Gardening

Trumpet Honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirens

Trumpet Honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirensA few years ago I was volunteering at a local native plant nursery.  The owner gave us volunteers some Trumpet Honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirens.  This is a semi-evergreen climbing vine. It was on its last legs.  In other words, it was almost dead.  I planted mine anyway hoping it would grow because I was developing an intense interest in native plants.  Now a few years later it is flowering beautifully in front of my house.  And the hummingbirds are immensely enjoying it!

As it was growing over the last few years–Trumpet Honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirens; I would sometimes get it mixed up with Clematis terniflora which is considered an invasive vine and native to Japan and China.  There is no question about the differences between these two plants when the flowers bloom and once the vine grows a bit.  When the vines are first growing the leaves look rather similar.

Pruning Trumpet Honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirens

I wanted to know the best time to prune trumpet honeysuckle.  Other names for trumpet honeysuckle are coral or scarlet honeysuckle.  If it is pruned in the fall or winter it would remove the spring flowers.  Some buds are already there as the winter begins.  I decided to experiment.  I pruned one vine to about a foot above the ground.  As I weeded out all the extensions from this vine I was shocked to see how much was attached to this vine.  I felt a little sad that I had pruned so many potential spring flowers.  I didn’t know if it would re-grow.  So I watched and waited to see how my experiment played out.  I often do experiments like this so I get real true information.

Trumpet Honeysuckle Sprouting New Growth After PruningOnce I had cut the vine back, it didn’t look too good.  It looked like it would never grow again.  After I few weeks I was shocked to see very robust new growth coming out of that cut-back vine.  The vines are just bursting out all over!  I was so excited to see my experiment coming to fruition and that it was successful!

I had an impressive crop of spring flowers.  Even though I had cut back a major vine and probably a lot of spring flower buds, I still had lots of flowers on my vine.  So my conclusion is that you can prune the trumpet honeysuckle at the end of the winter but only do one part each season so there will still be lots of spring flowers.

Lessons Learned with Pruning Trumpet Honeysuckle

  1. The flower buds are on the vine throughout the winter.
  2. If you cut back all the vines at once you will lose the spring flowers.
  3. If you want to prune, just cut back one or two vines depending on how many you have.
  4. Leave about a foot of vine after pruning.
  5. After you cut back the vines in late winter they will look like they will never grow again.
  6. Don’t worry they will burst forth with new life.

Don’t get mixed up with Trumpet vine or Trumpet Creeper Campsis radicans which also has orange trumpet flowers.  The trumpet vine flowers are much bigger and this plant is considered invasive in some places.



American Goldfinches Eat Purple Coneflower

I never knew that American Goldfinches eat Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) until several years ago. It was a wonderful discovery to be introduced to these American Goldfinchbeautiful birds with their startling contrast between brilliant yellow and black feathers. Only the males are these beautiful colors. As it often happens in nature, the female is usually subtly colored; I imagine so as not to capture so much attention! Of course in the winter the male loses his bright yellow colors and looks just like the female.


American Goldfinches Eat Purple Coneflower Partially Eaten

Purple ConeflowerI want to add a picture of a Purple Coneflower from the summertime.  So you get an idea what these seed pods used to look like in all their beauty and glory in the summer.

I was cleaning out my garden yesterday.  You know starting to cut out all the dead flower stalks from last year.  I noticed the remnants of the Purple Coneflower or Echinacea flowers. Some were still totally intact, some partly eaten and some completely devoured! I wanted to share these images with you.  The one above is partially eaten.  There are still plenty of seeds on this dried flower bud.  The lighter color that you see is where there seeds have been eaten leaving the under part exposed.  Contrast this picture to the one underneath where the seed pod hasn’t been touched.

Purple Coneflower Seed Head Untouched by the BirdsBy this time of year it is hard to find an intact Purple Coneflower dried flower head.  The birds are ravenous and even though, I have a special American Goldfinch feeder they still eat plenty of Echinacea seeds from the dried flowers.

 Did you Know that American Goldfinches Eat Purple Coneflower?

All Seeds Eaten from this Purple ConeflowerIf you have Purple Coneflowers in your garden and the dried flowers look like my pictures then you know some bird has been eating the tops .  Maybe you already have American Goldfinches visiting your garden.  The last image that I have for you above is a seed top where all the seeds have been completely devoured.  It is an artistic composition as it looks so stark and bereft of seeds! But is also has a beautiful and pleasing shape not like the spiky seed head.

Check out my other post on an American Goldfinch feeder and American Goldfinches eating zinnias from my garden.