Monday, 10 August 2015

Cape honeysuckle - Tecoma capensis

Unit fairly recently this magnificent very well known shrub was known as Tecomaria capensis

Tecoma capensis this is the colour of the specimens that grow locally in Durban this one having been grown from seed obtained at Burman Bush

Tecoma capensis belongs to the family, Bignoniaceae as do many other very showy shrubs and trees such the well known , Port St Johns creeper  Podranea ricasoliana which is well known and grown in other countries yet is seldom seen or grown here in South Africa. Although a had a very large specimen growing over the roof of my granny flat at my previous house in Durban I have not yet obtained one for my property here in Mount Moreland. The photo below was taken by me in Auckland New Zealand.

Port St Johns creeper  Podranea ricasoliana

The sausage tree Kigelia africana , Rhigozum obovatum, Rhigozum zambesiacum, as well as the foreign Jacaranda are other showy well known members of the family, Bignoniaceae.

Tecoma capensis occurs naturally in thicket and is widely distributed throughout the Northern Province, Mpumalanga, Swaziland, KwaZulu-Natal, Cape coast, Swaziland and southern Mozambique.
In Mount Moreland we have natural populations growing at the south end of the King Shaka Airport and on the cliffs down by the Umdloti River.

Tecoma capensis is well known and cultivated here in South Africa it is also well known and is cultivated in many other areas around the world in particular California in the USA where many colour forms have been developed.  While living in Auckland, New Zealand I found that Tecoma capensis is a very popular hedging plant in most of the older residential areas of the city.

As a child my parents had a Tecoma capensis hedge and I loved to pick the flowers early in the morning before the birds and honey bees got to them to sip the nectar from them.

Flowering time for this shrub is very erratic and often it flowers all year round. Flowers are tubular and bird pollinated, attracting nectar-feeding birds, especially sunbirds as well as honey bees.
Tecoma capensis is an ornamental garden plant commonly used for screening and decorative purposes. It can also be trimmed to form a hedge. It is often planted specifically to attract birds.

I have seen this very dark flowering form growing naturally next to the parks board landing strip at St Lucia

Propagating Tecoma capensis
Tecoma capensis is easy to propagate from hard wood cuttings that in sandy soils can simply be pushed into the ground and watered. They can also be grown from tip cuttings in a mist propagation unit, by removing rooted suckers during the active growth phase, and from seed.

Growing Tecoma capensis 
Cape honeysuckle is an easy to grown and fast growing, scrambling shrub which is evergreen but will loose its leaves if it gets too dry or if the temperatures fall below freezing.  Tecoma capensis produces masses of orange to deep red flowers, there is also a yellow variety which unfortunately does not attract birds to the flowers.
Tecoma capensis will grow in just about any soil. When being planted it will grow best if a good sized hole is dug and is backfilled with a mixture of one third compost mixed with the soil that came out of the hole and a little balanced fertilizer. Please do not forget to water the plants as soon after they have been planted as possible to settle them in, thereafter they will need sufficient water to keep them moist until established. Once well established Tecoma capensis does not need watering as they are extremely drought resistant. In areas that receive frost young plants and larger established plants that have newly been planted out need to protected for at least the first winter.
To keep this shrub clean and tidy and to ensure heavy flowering, it must be pruned back in late winter to promote new growth and flowers.  Mulching with plenty organic compost and the application of a balanced fertilizer after pruning will enhance the growth and flowering.

Tecoma capensis is a must for every garden that has been designed to attract wildlife in particular the garden that has been designed to attract sunbirds because it provides vast amounts of nectar at the times of year when there are far less or no other suitable flowering plants for them to feed on.

Ecological value
Nature conservation starts AT YOUR OWN FRONT DOOR so anyone who is serious about nature conservation and improving the natural environment for as large a variety of creatures as possible simply has to plant a number of these highly productive plants in their own garden.

If you do not have Tecoma capensis growing in your garden and are a doer and not just a talker you will plan today to buy and plant some of these magnificent local South African plants in your garden.

Mature plants can be bought from any nursery that has a good variety of plants for sale.

Michael Hickman
Landscape Design and Rehabilitation Specialist


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1 comment:

  1. I have three Rhigozum zambesiacums which do not flower in Polokwane. What can I do to increase growth and flowering?