51118It may not bloom profusely, but cape honeysuckle, Tecoma capensis, blooms sporadically at random times throughout the year, and often while not much else is blooming. The bright reddish orange flowers contrast nicely against glossy evergreen foliage. Some blooms are slightly more reddish, while others are slightly more orangeish. A somewhat more compact cultivar blooms with light yellow flowers.

The long and limber stems of cape honeysuckle can not decide if they want to grow as vines or as shrubbery. They can be tied back and espaliered against a fence or trellis, or pruned and left to stand on their own. Large plants can get higher than the eaves. Overgrown thickets of stems can be cut down to the ground at the end of winter. They can regenerate and resume blooming before summer.

The narrow tubular flowers are about two inches long. They develop in terminal trusses, but only a few within a truss bloom at the same time. Shade inhibits bloom. Fertilizer seems to inhibit bloom by promoting vigorous vegetative growth. Fortunately, these vigorous shoots eventually bloom as vigorously as the grew. The four or five inch long leaves are pinnately compound, with five to seven small serrate leaflets.

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12 thoughts on “Cape Honeysuckle

  1. I have two of these in my backyard, and when they are in full bloom, they are absolutely amazing. At the moment, it’s Spring in South Australia where I live, they our bushes have only a few flowers, but they are full of birds and their nests. The local birds, White Plumed Honeyeaters, and New Holland Honeyeaters, both love getting themselves a sip of the nectar of those beautiful flowers.

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    1. Our native hummingbirds really dig them, as if they had always been a part of the local ecology. It is funny how wildlife adapts to exotic plants. Grevilleas and so many of the other Australian plants are very popular with hummingbirds, as if they were made for each other.

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    1. Those are RAD! Until recently, they were not available in nurseries. The cultivar that is available now stays somewhat compact. Those that I remember from old homes in San Jose grow up into awkward trees that ultimately fall over onto something else for support. The modern cultivar looks just like the old ones, but is supposed to be much more manageable. In a way, I sort of like the big ones too, but I do not think I would want to take care of one.

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      1. I agree. Whenever I see an older one they are in desperate need of a hard prune or decked out in the seed pods. They’re a bit pestly here too. But hubby loves them and has slowly converted me 😊

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      2. I am curious to see if the modern compact cultivar becomes popular. I think it should. (So many of the modern cultivars that become trendy are not worth bothering with.)

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  2. This is one plant I got to thrive in pots — big pots, as a matter of fact. Here, because of differences in our seasons, the bloom schedule was somewhat different. The routine always was a hard pruning in February, blooms by April, prolific flowering until about July, when the heat becomes too intense, and then blooms again in fall once the temperatures have fallen. Depending on how things go, they can bloom here until mid-November or so.

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    1. That is what I like to hear. Not many want to prune it (or other plants) like they should be pruned. There is one at work that got frosted last winter. Someone cut it back to about two or three feet tall, and just left all the nasty dead twigs. Those twigs were not going anywhere. I cut it back to the stump, and it recovered just fine, but without the thicket of twigs. This sort of thing is not normally conducive to confinement in pots. It just gets too bit. However, pruning it back annually constantly stimulates vigorous new grown, while preventing it from getting too big for its limited volume of medium.

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    1. It grows back here because we do not get hard frost. Even if it does not get frosted, it responds well to getting pruned back severely at the end of winter. Not many get cut back like that. It does not survive frost in colder climates.

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