Plant of the Month by Martin Fish
Leycesteria formosa ‘Golden Lanterns’
One of my favourite shrubs through October and November is Leycesteria formosa ‘Golden Lanterns’ which also goes under the common names of flowering nutmeg, golden pheasant bush or Himalayan honeysuckle.
The golden leaved form of this shrub is much more attractive than the green form and it provides colour and interest in the garden for much of the year. A deciduous shrub from China and the Himalayas, the new golden foliage in spring is tipped with deep red and provides a bright, cheery shrub all through the summer months.
In late summer pendant deep-red bracts and white flowers hang from the ends of the new growth and as we go into autumn red-purple berries develop. The berries hang on the plant all through the winter months and very often the attractive foliage remains on the plant until Christmas making this a really useful plant to brighten up dull days.
For the best results, it should be planted in a sunny position in fertile well-drained soil. ‘Golden Lanterns’ will grow to around 5ft (1.5m), making it perfect for most gardens, but if it gets a little too large, it responds well to being pruned in spring. In fact, the shrub in my garden gets a good prune back each spring as I find the new growth has the best foliage colour and produces more berries.
Martin Fish is a gardening columnist, broadcaster, speaker, RHS judge and all-round horticulture expert. He writes for publications including Garden Answers, Kitchen Garden and Which? Gardening.
We have worked with Martin closely over a number of years and each month he will be choosing a favourite Plant of the Month for us, with tips and advice for planting and growing in the garden.