Box leaved Honeysuckle LONICERA NITIDA

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Product description

LONICERA NITIDA – Box leaved Honeysuckle


Box leaf Honeysuckle (sometimes called ‘Poor Man’s Box’) is a vigorous shrubby evergreen that will grow to 3m (10ft) if left to grow to its full size.  It is used extensively to form evergreen hedges as it takes cutting, even hard cutting well.
The leaves are small dark green with a purple tinge on new growth. Its versatility has lead it to be used as pheasant cover in the countryside which combined with its ability to root when the stems touch the ground can lead to large clumps in woodland.

Where to grow

It is an extremely tough evergreen able to grow in almost all conditions, for this reason it has become ubiquitous.  It can cope with poor soil conditions and exposure, but will do best with a moist but well drained soil especially when it is being established.

Did you know?

Native to China it is found up to 2,000m in Yunnan Province, it was introduced by Wilson to Europe in 1908.

Mature height
Very Small up to 5 metres
0-5 meters
Shrub Multi-Stem
Growth rate
Soil type
All soil types
Sun levels
All Sun levels
Difficulty/hard to grow
Season of interest
Small leaves
Evergreen Hedge
Moisture levels
Drought tolerant
Good for Windy sites
Good at altitude
Wind break


For the continued healthy growth of your trees, shrubs or hedging it is vital that you follow the advice below.


The main reason that plants die within 12 months of having been planted is lack of water.  It is essential throughout the spring and summer, to give a heavy enough watering to enable the water to penetrate right down to the deepest root level of the tree.  In hot dry spells give the equivalent of 2 bucketfuls every three days.

Weed Control

One of the most common causes of lack of water is competition from grass.  When trees are first establishing, the grass roots would be at the same level as the tree roots and are far more efficient at taking up water and thus choke the tree.  It is vital for 3 years after planting that your tree or hedge has a circle or strip one  metre wide completely free of grass.  The way to eliminate grass in order of effectiveness is:

  1. Spray off the grass with a glyphosate based weed killer such as Roundup.  Apply each year for the first 3 years.  It is best applied when the tree is dormant as it is absorbed through green leaves and kills the plant off at the roots.
  2. Firmly fit a mulch mat around the base of the tree by tucking the edges into the soil and put a thick layer of bark mulch on top of this.  This can be done after the initial spraying with glyphosate and should avoid the need for further spraying.

Mowing or strimming is NOT an answer to the problem.  Each time you mow, the grass will grow back more vigorously and strimming invariably leads to lacerated trunks.


If trees are not correctly secured they will rock in the planting pit. Roots not firmly in contact with the soil are unable to take up moisture and nutrients, resulting in die back or death of the tree.  Check, particularly after windy weather, that stakes are still solidly in the ground keeping the base of the trunk firm.  The purpose of the stakes is to anchor the roots.   Flexing in the wind, higher up the trunk, is not necessarily a problem if the roots are firm.

Bellow is list of the correct system to use to secure your trees.

  • 40/60, 60/80, 80/100 whips - Unless rabbit/deer problem no need to stake.
  • 100/125, 125/150  1.2m Cane and Easi tie.
  • 150/175  1.2m square stake and a buckle tie and spacer.
  • 175/250, 6/8, 8/10 15L 1.65 Tree stake and a buckle tie and spacer.
  • All larger trees. 2 x 1.65 Tree stake and cross rail with 38mm cushion spacer and 1m of 38mm strapping.


Always use our recommended tree ties or strapping.  These are designed and manufactured with the correct amount of give to hold the tree firm without strangling it. They should be checked at the end of each growing season for adjustment as the trunk thickens.  Non proprietary materials such as baler twine will cut into the bark and should not be used.

Protection from Animal Damage

Rabbits, deer, sheep, cattle and horses can all potentially damage trees.  Ask us for advice on the most appropriate guards for your trees or hedge.  Squirrels are also a terrible pest when trees get to about 20ft tall but there is no protection available.


By Suzanne Taylor on 31/05/2015

Does the Lonicera Nitida flower?

By Simon on 05/06/2015

Hello Suzanne,

It can flower but not if kept as a hedge.

Kind regards,


By Andrew on 26/09/2015

I assume being a Honeysuckle it is immune to box blight?

By Simon on 29/09/2015

Hello Andrew,

That’s right, Lonicera nitida is not affected by box blight and makes a good alternative to Buxus.

By mark pearce on 30/10/2015

How low can I keep Lonicera nitida as a hedge .

By Simon on 30/10/2015

Hello Mark,

Lonicera nitida is quite vigorous, but you could probably keep it as low as a foot high with regular trimming.

By Catherine on 13/01/2016

can this shape up as well as box, sharp edged on all sides.  Am thinking of either this or ilex crenata, would you advise one over the other?  I have heavy loam clay soil.  I am also looking for 2 trees for a central feature to a yew knot garden.  I am wanting an evergreen (bay suffer as they are quite exposed) I would prefer not to have holly, could you advise?  I have looked at so many things that I am now considering an evergreen shrub trained into a tree - it preferably would not be a tree growing more than 3 metres so I have also ruled out Holm oaks and Hornbeam!  Many thanks any advice you can give.

By Simon on 14/01/2016

Dear Catherine,

Lonicera nitida is often used in place of box and is perfect for clipped hedging. It grows somewhat faster, so will need trimming more often to keep it sharp edged. It does best in a well-drained soil but might fare better than Ilex crenata in your heavy soil. Euonymus Green Rocket is another, slower growing option.

For small evergreen trees, I would advise popping into the nursery to see what we have available. We usually have a good stock of Photinia Red Robin and Portuguese Laurel trained as standards.

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