Fragrant Honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima, is a winter blooming honeysuckle. It has several names, Winter honeysuckle, Winter Flowering Honeysuckle, Winter Honeysuckle, Sweetest Honeysuckle, Sweet Breath of Spring, Kiss Me Over The Garden Gate.
It originates in China but has been here since Colonial times. It has been a staple of front gardens for generations. Its welcoming fragrance is intended to greet guests as they enter the yard in late winter. Before cars, the yard could be a muddy mess as was most of the rest of the countryside. The drabness of winter was invitingly broken by this wonderful fragrant shrub by the front gate or at the foot of the steps to the house.
Through the summer it is an unassuming shrub that without any care can be a little lanky and loose but, with a periodic trimming can be a neat and very attractive addition to the landscape. The leaf color is a dull green and as a shrub it makes a good green background in a flowerbed. Shop Fragrant Honeysuckle- https://rockbridgetrees.com/product/fragrant-honeysuckle/
Beekeepers love the Fragrant Honeysuckle for its flowers when little is available for the bees. It has an abundance of blooms for 3 or 4 months when little else is in flower. The flowers burst forth on warm winter days even days with snow still on the ground. Honeybees venture forth on these days looking for any source of nectar or pollen to feed their new crop of bees. A regular food source can be the impulse to get a head start on the season. The flowers have both nectar and pollen available. This is a welcome food source for other bees as well. Our native bees get to work at cooler temperatures than Honeybees and they find this shrub a welcome food source as well.
The shrub is semi evergreen in the south but loses its leaves farther north. As it matures, it develops an interesting shaggy bark that adds to its winter interest.
There are several imported Chinese Honeysuckles in this country that were brought here as ornamentals that turned out to be very aggressive outside of cultivation. The Fragrant Honeysuckle is much better behaved. The state of Illinois has declared it as an invasive plant but the other states have not. Do a few escape? Yes, a few, but on the whole this one is not very aggressive and tends to stay put.