Leycesteria formosa, commonly called Himalayan Honeysuckle, is a multi-caned deciduous shrub in the honeysuckle family that typically grows to 3-6’ tall. It is native to forested areas of the Himalayas and southwestern China. Hollow, bamboo-like, upright, powder-gray stems are clad with opposite, undivided, long-pointed, cordate-based, ovate dark green leaves (to 2-7” long). Small, mildly-scented, white honeysuckle flowers, subtended by showy deep red bracts, bloom throughout summer (June – September) in terminal and axillary pendulous racemes. Flowers are followed by small fleshy edible purple berries which purportedly taste like toffee or caramel. It is easily grown in average, moist but well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Hardy in zones 7-9.
Growing Instructions for the Himalayan Honeysuckle
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the fall or winter for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year. 1. Soak the seeds in water for 24 hours. 2. Put the seeds in a ziplock bag. 3. Put the bag in the refrigerator and leave it there for 3 months. 4. The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Use a sterile seed starter mix or a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. The sterile seed starter mix prevents soil fungi from damaging the seeds and the seedlings. Put the soil in a pot. 5. Sow the seeds on the soil. 6. Cover the seeds with a layer of soil that is 1/16 of an inch thick. 7. Water the soil so that it is moist but not wet. 8. When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.