Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla)

Published On: November 13th, 2023


Diervilla Kodiak Orange photo credit Proven Winners Color Choice

Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla) is a hardy, adaptable native shrub not to be confused with the invasive, non-native Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica). Diervilla is a densely branched, deciduous shrub with a semi-arching habit that grows 3′-4’ tall and equally wide. It is an extremely durable, forgiving plant with a slowly colonizing habit that is an excellent choice for challenging sites including dry areas, slopes, and shade.

Pollinators!

One reason that Diervilla has gained in popularity in recent years is due to its tremendous appeal to native pollinators, who seek out its sweet yellow flowers in summer. Diervilla produces clusters of small, tubular, trumpet-shaped flowers that are a favorite of hummingbirds, bees, and other pollinators.

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Care & Maintenance

Diervilla is an easy-care shrub. As a native, it is well adapted to growing in our soils and climate. While it will require regular watering for the first season when transplanted, after that it is very drought tolerant.

An annual spring application of slow release, organic fertilizer, combined with a light pruning is all you’ll need to keep your Diervilla vigorous and healthy.

Diervilla does have a suckering, colonizing habit so is best planted where such coverage is desired. It is not an aggressive spreader but will steadily increase to become a robust, tall groundcover.

Dievilla Kodiak Fresh photo credit Prides Corner Farms

Pruning

Diervilla blooms on current season’s growth (“new wood”), so pruning should be carried out in late winter/early spring before new growth starts. Spring clean-up should involve removing any weak or dead stems and, if desired, cutting the plant back. No more than one third of the plant should be cut back each year.

Diervilla Kodiak Fresh showing lime green summer foliage color photo credit Proven Winners
Diervilla Kodiak Orange photo credit Proven Winners Color Choice

Diervilla in a Nutshell

  • Mature height: 2’-4’
  • Mature spread: 3’-5’ with colonizing habit
  • Light requirement: Full sun to significant shade (note: foliage color will be more pronounced in sunnier location)
  • Growth form: Rounded to spreading habit with upright, gently arching stems
  • Flowers: Clusters of small yellow flowers for many weeks in summer. The flowers produce sweet nectar and are extremely attractive to a wide range of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: Zone 4
  • Especially valuable for:
    • Attracting native pollinators
    • Ability to thrive in challenging sites, including dry shade
    • Cold hardiness
    • Foliage color (cultivars)
    • Deer resistance
    • Erosion control

Newer Introductions

Newer introduction of Diervilla offer interesting foliage color in addition to durability and pollinator friendliness:

Kodiak® Orange

Diervilla Kodiak Orange photo credit Proven Winners Color Choice

Diervilla x ‘G2X8854’  USPP27,548

New foliage is orange and fall foliage color is a glowing orange-red. The Kodiak® series offers an especially long bloom season, producing flowers throughout most of the summer.

Mature size 3’-4’.

Nightglow™

Diervilla Nightglow ZC photo Heydens Gardens Cedarburg Wisconsin

Diervilla x ‘El Madrigal’ PP28,060

Dark burgundy leaves contrast strikingly with the yellow flowers.

Mature Size 2’-3’.

Kodiak® Fresh

Diervilla Kodiak Fresh photo credit Proven Winners Color Choice

Diervilla x ‘SMNDSS’ USPP34,138

Orangey-red new growth, bright lime colored summer foliage, and glowing orange fall foliage. The Kodiak® series offers an especially long bloom season, producing flowers throughout most of the summer.

Mature size: 2′-3′