Tecomaria Capensis [tek-oh-MAR-ee-uh, ka-PEN-sis], also called Tecoma Capensis, is a perennial flowering plant species of the family Bignoniaceae, naturally found in southern Africa – in Eswatini, South Africa, and southern areas of Mozambique.
However, it is also cultivated in many other parts of the world, such as in South-East Asia, and California and Hawaii in the United States, and has also been naturalized in some areas, such as in some parts of Australia.
Prized for its beautiful flowers, the plant is most commonly known as Cape Honeysuckle.
But, it is also sometimes referred to with the following common names:
- Red tecoma
- Orange cape honeysuckle
- Red cape honeysuckle
- Cape trumpet flower
- Yellow cape honeysuckle
- Kaffir honeysuckle
Contrary to what its common names suggest, the plant is neither true honeysuckle nor closely related. However, Tecoma stans is related.
Tecomaria Capensis Care
Size & Growth
Growing as an erect and scrambling shrub, cape honeysuckle can reach the height of 7’ to 10’ feet.
It typically also spreads to the same area as its height and feature long, slightly serrated, and oppositely arranged pinnate leaves.
Each leaf can grow up to 6” inches long and has 5 to 9 oblong-shaped leaflets.
This bignonia capensis shrub is multi-stemmed and a fast grower.
Flowering and Fragrance
Unlike most flowering plants, cape honeysuckle doesn’t have a set bloom time.
Instead, it has several blooming periods throughout the year, which is one of its most special features.
The flowers are narrow, tubular or trumpet-shaped, and about 3” inches long.
Borne as terminal clusters, they open into a 2-lipped and 5-lobed mouth.
The flower color ranges from orange, red-orange, and yellowish-orange (apricot-like color) to yellow and deep red.
In addition to being showy, the flowers also produce generous amounts of nectar and hence, are highly attractive to bees and birds.
Light & Temperature
Red tecoma grows in full sun to partial shade. Too much shade, however, can lead to fewer blooms.
It is not much winter hardy and cannot tolerate temperatures below 23° degrees Fahrenheit (-5° C).
While it can grow in the protection of a warm wall in mild temperate areas, cape honeysuckle plants need to be taken indoors in areas where the temperature drops very low in winters.
Due to its less resistance to cold weather, the plant often starts losing its leaves when exposed to temperatures below 25° degrees Fahrenheit (-4° C).
In warm or temperate areas, however, cape honeysuckle grows as an evergreen shrub.
It is winter hardy to USDA hardiness zones 9-11.
Watering and Feeding
- The watering needs of Tecoma capensis aren’t very high.
- While it prefers a moderate amount of water, it is also fairly drought tolerant.
- Regular watering in summer, however, ensures the best growth.
- On average, watering deeply about once a week, when planted in full sun, and once or twice a month, when grown in shade, is enough.
- The rule of thumb for watering orange cape honeysuckle is to let the soil dry out slightly between waterings.
- Feed the plant with a granulated, balanced (10-10-10), and slow-release fertilizer once in early spring, before the new growth emerges.
- Make sure to only apply a thin and even layer of the fertilizer around the base of the plant.
- Applying a balanced fertilizer after pruning helps encourage new growth and improve flowering as well.
Soil & Transplanting
Cape honeysuckle doesn’t have specific soil requirements – it can easily grow in any soil type as long as it is well-composted and well-draining.
Grooming and Maintenance
Since cape trumpet flower shrub grows at a fast rate and often scramble up the nearby plants, walls, fences or other structures, it can get an untidy appearance and needs to be trimmed.
Prune the plant in late winter months to promote new growth and enhance the production of flowers.
The plant can tolerate and responds well to heavy pruning.
Apart from trimming and pruning, which is also not essential, cape honeysuckle doesn’t require care and maintenance – it is an easy-to-grow and a low-maintenance plant.
How to Propagate Orange Cape Honeysuckle
Orange cape honeysuckle can easily be propagated by cuttings during spring and summer.
However, the easiest and quickest way to grow the capensis plant is through rooted suckers; commonly found around the base of the adult plants.
Simply remove them from the parent plant during the active growth season and transplant in the garden.
Cape honeysuckle will grow from seeds, found in bean-like seedpods, in early spring or summer.
But, it is not the most preferred method because the plants grown from seeds do not start flowering at least until the second year.
The young plants need to be protected from the frost.
Orange Cape Honeysuckle Pest or Diseases
The plant attracts several insects and birds, particularly sunbirds and hummingbirds, due to its flower nectar and is also often serve as the nesting site for some bird species.
The larvae of Fulvous Hawkmoth (Coelonia Mauritii) and Death’s Head Hawkmoth (Acherontia Atropos) feed on the leaves of cape honeysuckle.
The nectar-feeding birds also act as the pollinators of Tecomaria capensis.
Yellow cape honeysuckle is deer resistant.
Tecomaria Capensis Uses
In addition to being cultivated for ornamental purposes, due to its beautiful orange flowers, cape honeysuckle also has numerous landscape uses.
It is widely used for hedging and screening because of its scrambling growth habit.
Since the beautiful flowers of T. capensis attract birds and butterflies, it makes an excellent addition to wildlife gardens.
Being wind-resistant, it is also a good choice for coastal gardens.
Due to its fast growth rate, it is also grown by farmers alongside fences, in some areas, to serve as an additional grazing source for the livestock.
It is also grown in large containers as a houseplant.
In some parts of the world, the bark and leaves of the cape honeysuckle are also used for certain medicinal purposes.
Red cape honeysuckle is also fire-resistant.