Cape Honeysuckle Plant Profile

Attract Hummingbirds with Bright, Joyful Flowers

Cape honeysuckle against the sky

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Cape honeysuckle comes in a blazing orange color that is sure to brighten up your tropical garden. It is used as either a shrub or liana. Due to its color and sweet nectar, it attracts hummingbirds. Not only is it versatile in looks but it also is quite easy to maintain, which makes it a perfect idea for a splash of uniqueness in your garden.

The name cape honeysuckle came about because the native region for this shrub is in South Africa by the Cape of Good Hope. It is a bit misleading as this is not true honeysuckle. Real honeysuckles belong to the Caprifoliaceae family and are found in the Lonicera genus. Other members include the desert willow, northern and southern catalpa, and jacaranda.

Botanical Name Tecoma capensis
Common Name Cape honeysuckle
Plant Type Flowering evergreen shrub
Mature Size 3 to 10 feet tall as a shrub; 25 to 30 feet long as a vine
Sun Exposure Full sun to partial shade
Soil Type Well drained,
Soil pH 5.6 to 8.5 
Bloom Time Fall, winter, spring
Flower Color Orange to orange-red
Hardiness Zone 9 through 11; it can survive in zone 8 with some protection.
Native Area South Africa

How to Grow Cape Honeysuckle

The shape of this plant depends entirely on how you let it grow, as it can either be a shrub or vine. As a shrub, it can be anywhere from 3-10' tall, depending on how consistently you prune it. In vine form it will travel a lot farther, reaching lengths of 25-30' or more. Usually, the cape honeysuckle is treated as a shrub and clipped into a box shape. However, this plant also likes to vine, so consider it for your trellis or pergola.

Each pinnately compound leaf is made up of 5-9 leaflets that are shaped like diamonds. Whether they are evergreen or deciduous depends on how cool the climate gets in winter.

During the fall through spring (possibly the entire year), the cape honeysuckle will be covered with an abundance of orange (sometimes reddish or yellow, depending on variety) blooms in the shape of a trumpet. Once the flowers have been pollinated, long capsule fruits are produced.

Pruning depends on the shape you've chosen. If you're going for a hedge, trimming may be required on a regular basis since this grows fast. Cut it back to the ground every 3-4 years in the spring(or as needed) to help keep it from sprawling. You should also prune away branches that were damaged by frost at the start of spring.

This plant does produce suckers. Clip them away if you don't want them to spread. Less maintenance will be needed if you're using it like a vine. You will just need to keep it trained on its support system.

There aren't many problems with this plant. If your zone gets some frost, this can cause damage to the leaves and branches. You may run across problems with too little or too many nutrients, which is usually most apparent in the foliage. There may be other environmental problems like leaf scorch. Overall, though, this shrub should stay happy and healthy over its lifetime with little maintenance.

Light

Cape honeysuckle is a tropical plant and does prefer full sun. Some light shade, however, is acceptable, though shaded plants will produce fewer blooms.

Soil

Don't fret about the pH of your soil too much, as this plant can handle both acidic and alkaline soils. It also grows in salty locations like coastal regions and can handle gusts of wind.

Water

Water your cape honeysuckle weekly if you are growing it in full sun, or just once or twice a month if it is in shade. After a year or regular watering, the roots should be established enough to provide drought tolerance.

Temperature and Humidity

Cape honeysuckle is a tropical plant that thrives in hardiness zones 9–11. It is heat and drought tolerant, but its branches and leaves tend to die back at temperatures under 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fertilizer

If you've tested the soil and detected a lack of nutrients, go ahead and use some fertilizer. It is usually not needed, though. It is a good idea to mulch your cape honeysuckle if there is a predicted frost.

Varieties of Cape Honeysuckle

Cape Honeysuckle comes in three color-related cultivars.

  • Aurea produces golden yellow flowers.
  • Coccinea's flowers are bright red or scarlet.
  • Salmonea produces orange or pink flowers.