Pheasant Berry / Himalayan Honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa) Growing & Care Guide

Leycesteria formosa, also known as the Pheasant Berry or Himalayan Honeysuckle, is a deciduous shrub.

It carries attractive, pendulous flower clusters, and has purplish-red stems.

Leycesteria formosa plant
Leycesteria formosa photograph by Wendy Cutler; CC.

Typically, it grows to a height and spread of 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 m). The plant is grown in gardens for its ornamental berries and showy flowers. It makes an attractive feature plant for wildlife gardens.

It flourishes in USDA hardiness zones 7 to 9 / 10. Be aware that it can rapidly spread, and may be invasive in some areas.

How to Grow Leycesteria formosa in the Garden

Leycesteria formosa prefers to grow in an area of full sun to part shade, and requires a well-drained soil. It can tolerate a wide range of soil types, from sand to clay, but good drainage is essential.

Pheasant Berry in bloom
Pheasant Berry image by gailhampshire; CC.

The Himalayan Honeysuckle plant it during the spring or fall in a hole that's about double the width and the same depth as the root ball. Water thoroughly once planted.

While it is drought-tolerant once established, regular watering Pheasant Berry will promote a better growth. Feed with a balanced slow-release fertilizer in early spring to aid healthy development.

Prune back hard in late winter or early spring. This will help to both maintain a tidy shape and to encourage new vigorous growth.

Himalayan Honeysuckle leaves
Himalayan Honeysuckle leaves image by Peter Stevens; CC.

Be on the look out for aphids, but general good care, such as maintaining good soil drainage and providing good air circulation should make it easy to keep plants healthy.

Using Leycesteria formosa in your garden can add a unique aesthetic appeal with its appealing flowers and berries. And it also acts as a generous provider of food for the local birds.

Quick Leycesteria formosa Growing and Care Guide

Scientific Name: Leycesteria formosa.

Common Name(s): Himalayan Honeysuckle, Pheasant Berry.

Growing Zone (USA / UK Hardiness): USDA Zones: 7-10. UK RHS H5, hardy.

Best Used For / Garden Location: Borders, wildlife gardens, as a specimen plant.

Plant Details

Life Cycle / Plant Type: Deciduous shrub.

Plant Height: 6-8 ft (1.8-2.4 m).

Plant Spread: 6-8 ft (1.8-2.4 m).

Blooms: Summer to fall.

Flower Details: White flowers with burgundy bracts, held in drooping clusters.

Leaf Foliage: Hollow, upright green stems with pointed, lance-shaped leaves.

Fruit: Purple-red berries in autumn, attractive to birds.

Growing Conditions and Location

Best Light Conditions: Full sun to part shade.

Suitable Soil Types: Well-drained soil, tolerates a variety of soil types.

Sowing, planting: Plant in spring or autumn; self-seeds readily.

Germination time: Not typically grown from seed.

Propagation: Hardwood cuttings in winter, or let it self-seed.

Plant Care: Prune in late winter or early spring to maintain shape and size.

Growing in pots and containers: Possible, but better in ground.

Growing as a House plant: Not suitable for indoor cultivation.

Further Information

Miscellaneous: Attracts birds and butterflies; can be invasive in some areas.

Pests and diseases: Generally pest-free but may be affected by powdery mildew.

Common Cultivars / Varieties: Leycesteria formosa 'Golden Lanterns' has golden-yellow leaves; 'Purple Rain' has deeper purple berries and more vibrant bracts.

Family: Caprifoliaceae, the Honeysuckle family.

Native: Himalayas and Southwestern China.

References and Further Reading: OSU Extension; RHS Himalayan honeysuckle 'Purple Rain'; WSU Clark County Extension.

Common Questions

Does Leycesteria formosa make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Absolutely, Leycesteria formosa makes for an excellent garden or landscaping plant. Its unique, pendulous clusters of flowers and deep purple berries provide distinct visual interest.

Is Leycesteria formosa a fragrant plant?

Yes, Leycesteria formosa is a fragrant plant. Its flowers, while small, have a sweet and pleasant aroma that can attract a variety of pollinators to your garden.

What is the perfect location to grow Leycesteria formosa?

Himalayan Honeysuckle thrives in full sun to partial shade and prefers moist, well-drained soil. It is adaptable to a variety of soil types and is hardy in USDA zones 7-9.

Is Himalayan Honeysuckle invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Himalayan Honeysuckle is considered potentially invasive in some parts of the Pacific Northwest and the Southeast USA.

Elsewhere, this member of the member of the Caprifoliaceae family has also become an invasive species in Australia and New Zealand.

Check your local regulations before planting.

How do I remove Leycesteria formosa from my garden?

To remove Leycesteria formosa, cut back the Pheasant Berry plant, then carefully dig out the root system. It's also advised to remove berries to prevent self-seeding.


Himalayan Honeysuckle is a deciduous shrub that prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. Known for its pendulous clusters of flowers and purple berries, it adds unique visual interest to gardens.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this guide on how to grow Leycesteria formosa. You may also enjoy the following growing guides: How to grow Weigela florida, Cephalaria, and Patrinia plants in the garden.

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