HIMALAYAN HONEYSUCKLE, PHEASANT BERRY
Pronounced: ley-ses-TER-ee-uh for-MOH-suh
Himalayans, western China.
Sunset zones: 4-6, 14-17, 20-24.
USDA zones: 7-10.
Height: 6 feet (2 m).
Width: 6 feet (2 m).
Summer into early autumn.
Pendant spikes of deep red bracts with white, delicately scented flowers and red-purple berries.
Ovate and tapered green leaves.
Full sun to light to partial shade.
Moist, well-drained, fertile soil.
Side dress with compost and add mulch in autumn. Fertilize with complete organic fertilizer in spring.
Sow seed in containers 60-70°F (16-20°C ) and place in cold frame in Autumn.
Softwood cuttings in summer.
Divide in spring.
In spring when buds begin to swell cut shrub back close to base, similiar to pruning Buddleja davidii.
Pests and Diseases:
I have not observed any problems with this plant.
Rainy Side Notes
Leycesteria formosa really draws in the wildlife. The hummingbirds go wild over it and animals and birds eat the berries. I have not tasted the berries but they are supposedly edible and have a bitter taste. The hollow stems can be used to make whistles and flutes.
If the temperature dips below 12°F (-10°C), stems are likely to be killed to the ground. The plant is a fast grower and will quickly spring back to original height during the growing season. Good mulch is necessary to protect roots from cold temperatures. It may seed about in your garden. In its native haunts, leycesterias prefer a woodland type setting. Here in the Pacific Northwest it prefers full sun.
Photographed in author's garden.