You’ve put out the jack-o’-lantern, there are mysterious eyes blinking in the hedge, and spider webs festoon the front porch. It’s almost time to greet thus year’s trick-or-treaters. You think you’re ready, but there’s a good chance that you’re missing the pièce de résistance, the perfect, spooky vine to frame your doorway. You need to plant Kintzley’s Ghost honeysuckle!
This 2006 PlantSelect™ winner is the perfect plant for Colorado gardens, and not just because of its Halloween-evoking name. A cross between two Midwest natives, Lonicera reticulata (Grape Honeysuckle) and L. prolifera (Yellow Honeysuckle), this hybrid depends on weekly watering in more arid regions. Plants are hardy in USDA zone 4 through 8. Not fussy about soil, they thrive in full sun, but also tolerate afternoon shade. Another plus—the blue-green foliage is deer-resistant.
Unlike other honeysuckles, which can run rampant over the garden, Kintzley’s Ghost quickly reaches a restrained eight to twelve feet in length, spreading from three to five feet wide. Hummingbirds love the showy yellow flowers, which appear in late spring, but it’s the silvery bracts that follow that are the main attraction. Once the flowers fade in early summer, they are replaced by small red berries showcased by eye-catching pale white-to-gray disks that persist well into the fall. Their pale color catches moonlight at night, providing an eerie ambience perfect for late October. However, it isn’t these ghostly bracts that give the vine its name.
The plant was originally propagated by William “Ped” Kintzley, who worked in the greenhouses at Iowa State University (then college) in the 1880s. It was passed down as a Kintzley family heirloom until it was discovered growing in the Fort Collins yard of his grandson by horticulturalist Scott Skogerboe, of the Fort Collins Wholesale Nursery. Happily for us non-Kintzleys, it’s now readily available at your local nursery. I’m sure Ped Kintzley would be delighted that his stunning vine bears his ghost’s name!