Q. Can Virginia Creeper and Honeysuckle be cultivated to entwine with each other?
Dear Cliff Conner,
We tried really hard to find a successful way for you to entwine woodbine and honeysuckle for your wife. We were all charmed by your idea, and one of us is still fanning away an Elizabethan swoon at the idea of such a lovely gift. Unfortunately, however, these days there are problems with every combination we thought of.
“Woodbine” is one of those common names that have been used for a number of different plants since Shakespeare’s time. It could, as you suggest, indicate Virginia creeper, and it could also refer to European honeysuckle, a plant not related to the creeper. Other plants have been known by this common names over the years, and Shakespeare did occasionally use his poet’s pen when writing of many plants that were common in his time. I think a solution might be for you to do likewise.
You might be able to plant two honeysuckles in a very large container, perhaps Lonicera periclymenum (European honeysuckle) and L. sempervirens, (called coral, trumpet or scarlet honeysuckle). The European honeysuckle is more a shrub than a vining (or “bining”) plant, frequently with white or pale pink flowers that emit the traditional honeysuckle scent; the second species is a vining plant whose stems can reach to 20 feet. It would like the support of the first and would probably twine itself through the European’s stems, although they have very different structures. The longer tubular bells and more vivid reddish colors of the second species are also attractive to hummingbirds. I haven’t seen too many hummingbirds on the Upper West Side, but if they visit that area, they will like these flowers. Both and particularly the first of these plants will require a lot of space, however, and will drop its leaves or die back in cold weather, so you should be prepared to show your love in additional non-botanical ways during the winter.
We would caution you not to use what is commonly known as Virginia creeper. It is really aggressive and could easily choke all the romance out of any plant within its reach. Japanese honeysuckle (L. japonica) is another attractive plant in this family, but it is considered very invasive, and you might one day have to rip it out, which is probably not the message you want to send.
If you are able to twine two plants for your anniversary gift, we hope you will send us a photo. We also hope you will not find it too personal of us to express our feeling that your wife is a lucky woman.
Best wishes on your anniversary!