Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tecomaria capensis (Cape Honeysuckle)

The bright, red-orange tubular flowers of Tecomaria capensis form in clusters on the tips of new growth during most of the year, with fewer blooms occurring during the hottest part of the summer.

The pinnately-compound leaves give the foliage a fern-like texture and the open flowers attract hummingbirds. Since it provides nectar during the winter months, hummingbirds may be encouraged to stay in your area year-round instead of migrating to Central America.
This is a very versatile plant that can be grown as a shrub, small tree, or scrambling vine, depending on how you care for it.  To grow as a shrub, periodically trim back long shoots to force branching.  As a small tree, keep excess shoots trimmed off as they emerge from the lower part of the plant.  If you prefer a vining habit, simply provide some sort of support and allow the long shoots to scramble up over it.  I have one that is about 25 feet tall, climbing up the trunk of an old papaya.  The two plants appear to have formed a symbiotic relationship, since I believe the thick growth of Tecomaria protected the papaya during the big freeze of January 2010.  The papaya still produces normal amounts of fruit within the protective foliage of the Tecomaria.
Established plants will send out horizontal runners from the base of the plant which will root and send up new plants from each node.  This is beneficial if you want a dense thicket or screening hedge, otherwise cut off the runners to keep the plant in bounds.

Tecomaria capensis is very drought-tolerant and is cold-hardy to the low 20°F range.  It is recommended for USDA Zones 9-11 and will reportedly survive Zone 8 as a perennial.  A full sun location is best for flowering, but it will also grow in light shade.  The plant tolerates salt-spray, and will grow in acid or alkaline soils.  It is also supposed to be deer-resistant.

This species is sometimes known as Cape Honeysuckle and is native to South Africa.  There are less-common cultivars with yellow, red, or salmon-colored flowers.
Traditional medicines use the powdered bark of this plant to treat pain and sleeplessness.  Disclaimer:  No medicinal claims are being made.  This is for informational purposes only.


FlowerLady said...

I love this flowering vine, and have it in two colors, the bright reddish/orange and a light salmon/peach. It is definitely drought tolerant and spreads easily and nicely.

Thanks again for a great post, now I have the name for this plant.

Happy Gardening ~ FlowerLady

Floridagirl said...

So cool that it protected the papaya last winter! I'm afraid of vines, but now I'm very tempted. I do love the cape honeysuckle, and I tell myself it is not a vine; it's a bush. (Tell myself the same about bougies.) I bought this plant for my sister a few years ago, and it has performed really well.

AaronVFT said...

That's a nice plant. Love the vibrant colour.

Andrea said...

We also have them here although i dont have it in our property. The color is really loud, can be perfect for Noel's hot, loud and proud meme. I am glad you posted it as i don't know its scientific name. Thanks also for visiting and appreciating my photos.


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