Winter honeysuckle

Flowers of winter honeysuckle appear in very late winter or early spring.

Winter honeysuckle is an attractive shrub with early-flowering fragrant flowers. However, under the Illinois Exotic Weed Act, it cannot be sold in Illinois.  It is also considered invasive in many areas.  The information provided here is more for identification purposes rather than a guide to plant selection. This plant is NOT recommended.

Botanical name:

Lonicera fragrantissima

All Common Names:

Winter honeysuckle

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Shrub

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Foundation,
  • Massing,
  • Mixed border,
  • Patio/sidewalk

Size Range:

  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 2,
  • Zone 3,
  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago)

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil

Season of Interest:

  • Late winter,
  • Early spring

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Fragrant,
  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Mounded,
  • Multi-stemmed,
  • Round,
  • Thicket-forming

More Information:

Size & form

A coarse, rounded shrub reaching 6 to 10 feet high and wide.

Tree & Plant Care

Adaptable to many soil types.  Best in full sun for flowering, but tolerant of part shade.
Prune after flowering to maintain shape. Thin slender branches can become a tangled mass if not pruned regularly.
Very early to leaf out in spring.

Disease, pests, and problems

Leaf spots, mildews, aphids, four-lined plant bug

Disease, pest, and problem resistance


Native geographic location and habitat

Eastern China

Attracts birds & pollinators

Butterflies and bees

Bark color and texture 

Slender, light tannish-brown

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Opposite, elliptic to ovate, up to 3 inches long, dull blue-green above to lighter underside

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Creamy white, 2-lipped petals,  very fragrant lemon scented. Long blooming flowers in March to April

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Sparse, 1/4 inch diameter dark red berry

Location of Lonicera fragrantissima (Winter honeysuckle) at the Arboretum