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The fragrantissima Lonicera is a shrub with deciduous leaves of medium size, does not exceed 2.5-3 meters in height, originating in China and East Asia. It has long thin stems, slightly arched, densely branched; the new branches are dark purple; the leaves are oval, 4-5 cm long, dark green, slightly cuoiose and opaque.
In January-February it produces numerous white or cream flowers, very fragrant, which bloom pendulous below the branches, often in groups of three or four and which give this variety its name. In spring the flowers are followed by berries, in groups of 2-3, similar to olives, of green color, they become reddish in summer. These plants lose their leaves very late, so that in places with mild winters they can behave like evergreens; the leaves fall in December-January, before flowering.
There fragrantissima lonicera It is a non-climbing shrub, but with a rather loose habit and with branches, reddish, arched and elegant. At maturity it can reach 3 meters in height and about 2 in width.
It is a semisempreverde, as the foliage is deciduous only where the temperatures drop below -5 ° C. The single leaves are oval, coriaceous, acute and with toothed margins, of dark green color, but glaucous on the inferior page. The flowers, among the first in the gardens, appear in the South already in December, while in the Center and in the North they must usually wait until February-March. They are brought to 2 to 2 in the leaf axils, creamy-white in color, with an intense perfume: fresh, sweet and fruity, similar in some ways to that of jasmine. These are followed, already towards the end of spring, by soft, oblong berries, about 6-8 mm in diameter, red or salmon, with translucent skin; they are very appreciated by the fauna, but toxic for the human beings.
It is native to China and came to Europe in 1845 thanks to Robert Fortune.
The genus Lonicera includes about 180 species from all over the northern hemisphere, but especially from the wooded and mountainous areas of central and eastern Asia.
They have always been very popular for their climbing or shrubby habit, for the beautiful flowering and in particular for the renowned perfume, with warm and enveloping notes.
Among these species there are many hidden and almost unknown treasures to the general public, but which would be worth re-evaluating and inserting more into our green spaces. In particular, the fragrantissima lonicera should be valued and made more popular: it is in fact a shrub with a beautiful bearing and arched branches, capable of being a point of interest at any time of the year. The peculiarity that makes it truly precious is the flowering during the cold season, when the rest of the garden is still sleeping: the corollas are neither large nor showy, but their abundance makes the whole really pleasant. Moreover, when they open, especially in the hottest days, towards evening, they release into the air a sweet aroma, with hints of honey, perceptible even from a distance and capable, even alone, of reviving the day.
Much loved by bees, it is nevertheless a great attraction for small birds, which happily feed on its scarlet fruits, which appear more in the season.
Regarding the exposure of the Lonicera fragrantissima it is advisable to place in a sunny place, or even in partial shade; the lonicere do not fear the winter cold and the summer heat. It is good to check that the place chosen for the cultivation of the plant is exposed to direct sunlight for at least a few hours a day.
For a compact and balanced development it is advisable to prune branches that are too developed or lacking vigor, after flowering, in spring or autumn, remembering that these plants bloom on old wood, and therefore it is advisable to remove portions of young branches.
There fragrantissima lonicera manages to grow rather well in all light conditions; the ideal positioning is however in partial shade, perhaps where it is well lit during the morning hours and more sheltered in the warm ones. This will allow us to have fast growth and abundant flower production. Clearly in our country this location will be particularly recommended in the southern regions, given that the heat and the low humidity could cause dehydration and leaf burns. As we go up the peninsula we can afford more daring exposures.
THE FRAGRANT LONICERA IN BRIEF
Family, genus, species
|Caprifoliaceae, gen. Lonicera, sp. fragrantissima|
|Type of plant||Flowering shrub, semi-persistent foliage|
|Height and width at maturity||3x2 m|
|Culture||Simple and non-binding|
|Flower color||White, cream, pink|
|Rusticitа||Very rustic, up to -30 ° C|
|Ground||Rich, deep, fresh; tolerates limestone and poor soils|
|Exposure||Half shade; also tolerates full sun and light and medium shade|
|Soil moisture||Always slightly damp|
|use||Free hedge, isolated shrub, mixed borders, vase|
THE CALENDAR OF L. FRAGRANTISSIMA
|December (South), February-March (Center-North)|
|Berries production||From June|
|Pruning||Late March-early April / rejuvenation also November|
Fertilization and cultural care
It is an undemanding plant that requires limited maintenance. To stimulate development and keep the soil always airy and vital, it is useful to spread a good amount of manure or compost along with slow release granular fertilizer for flowering shrubs at the foot of the specimens, in which nitrogen and potassium are balanced . In this way we will stimulate both vegetative growth and bud production. A second administration of granules can be performed in late summer.
The fragrantissima lonicera is available both in the type species and in some interesting cultivars. Over the years, moreover, various interspecific hybrids have been created, also to be taken into consideration.
The cultivar that is most easily found on the market is undoubtedly the "Spring Purple" which combines the beautiful white winter flowers with new bright purple jets. The foliage is dark green with purple reflections.
Very similar is the Lonicera standishii: it has more pointed leaves and flowers slightly later, around March, with pale pink petals.
An interesting hybrid is the lonicera x purpusii, obtained by crossing precisely with the standishii: more compact, with leaves up to 10 cm long and creamy-white flowers, in groups of two or four.
Lonicera fragrantissima: Uses and combinations
Given the small size and the upright posture, this lonicera can also be inserted in spaces or gardens of limited dimensions. The ideal is to use it as an isolated specimen or for the creation of free hedges, in combination also with other winter flowering essences (for example forsythia, jasminum nudiflorum, calicanto, chaenomeles japonica), ideal for reviving open spaces in the coldest months.
Using a large (but especially deep) vessel it is even possible to grow it on a balcony or terrace.