How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Cape Honeysuckle

Are you looking for a fast-growing, prolific flowering plant that can be grown as both a shrub and a vine? Cape Honeysuckle fits all of these qualifications and is very easy to care for. In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss shares everything you need to know about planting and caring for Cape Honeysuckle.

Cape Honeysuckle


Cape Honeysuckle, or Tecoma capensis, is an evergreen vine or shrub native to Southern Africa. Don’t let its name fool you, though, Cape Honeysuckle is not actually a type of honeysuckle or even a close relative. Rather, it is a member of the Tecoma genus, typically known as Trumpetvines, or Trumpetbushes. 

These attractive flowering plants can be grown as a shrub, growing to about 10 feet tall for larger cultivars and 6-8 feet in more compact varieties. They can be trained to have a vining habit as well, so they can be grown as a trailing vine or a liana (hanging from trees) and can reach up to 30’ long if grown in this fashion. 

In its native regions, the bark of this plant has been used to make medicine. However, now it is most commonly grown for its ornamental value. It is a hardy, low-maintenance, and sprawling plant that is very easy to grow and brings a lot of color and interest to the garden.

Ready to learn more about this lovely vine’s maintenance and care? Let’s dig in and look at everything you need to know about successfully growing this plant in your garden.

Cape Honeysuckle Overview

Cape Honeysuckle Overview
Plant Type Evergreen Shrub or Vine
Season Year Round
Family Bignoniaceae
Genus Tecoma
Species Tecoma (tecomaria) capensis
Native Area Southern Africa
Plant Size 20’+
Water Requirements Low to Moderate
Sun Requirements Full Sun to Part Shade
Hardiness Zones 9-11, 8 with frost protection
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Well-Drained, Fertile, Sandy
Soil pH 5.0–8.0
Diseases Root Rot
Pests Aphid, Scale

Native Regions and Cultivation

Close-up of a flowering Cape Honeysuckle plant against a blurred background of a dark green garden. The shrub has large loose clusters of tubular flowers. The flowers are elongated, tubular, with a curved corolla and are bright orange. The leaves are shiny, dark green, compound, each leaf consists of several leaflets. Leaflets are oval, elongated, with a serrated edge.
Cape Honeysuckle from Southern Africa thrives in tropical climates, trails up trees, and is versatile in cultivation.

In its native region of Southern Africa, T. capensis is typically found growing in the forest understory beneath a canopy. It commonly winds its way up trees, where it likes to trail from branches in the filtered sunlight. 

In cultivation, it is a versatile plant resistant to pests and diseases. It has been cultivated in Australia, India, Europe, Singapore, and some island environments in the Pacific Ocean. It is considered invasive in Australia, though.

This species is not difficult to find in the Southern United States. It grows very well in tropical and subtropical climates and can be grown as a perennial or with some protection from frost in zone 8. It can also be grown as a container plant in colder climates, although it will be much smaller under these circumstances.


Close-up of a hummingbird near a flowering Cape Honeysuckle plant in a garden, against a blurred green background. The hummingbird is a small bird with a compact and streamlined body shape characterized by a short neck, a small head and a slender, elongated body. Their wings are long and narrow, allowing them to hover and maneuver. Hummingbirds have iridescent feathers of bright green and blue hues. The hummingbird has a long thin beak. The Cape Honeysuckle plant produces a cluster of bright orange, elongated, tubular flowers with long, prominent stamens from the centers.
A resilient vine, this evergreen is known for its trumpet-shaped flowers and attractiveness to hummingbirds.

Cape Honeysuckle is an evergreen shrub or vine belonging to the Bigoniaceae family of predominantly flowering vines known for their trumpet-shaped flowers. Most members of Bigoniaceae are woody, including T. capensis, making the vines tough and sturdy, giving them good wind resistance.

They are of the genus Tecoma, also known as Tecomaria, which encompasses 14 species. Of those, 12 species are native to the Americas, and two, including T. capensis, are native to Africa. Related to this plant are the Jacaranda and Esperanza, as well as the Yellow Elder, or Yellow Bells. All of these plants are notoriously attractive to pollinators, especially hummingbirds.

Leaf Formation

A close-up of the leaves of the Cape Honeysuckle plant against a blurred background. The leaves are compound, consisting of oval green leaflets with pointed tips and serrated edges.
It features attractive pinnately compound leaves in odd numbers, resembling rose leaves.

Cape Honeysuckle has very attractive foliage. The leaves are pinnately compound, meaning they are made up of small leaflets arranged to either side of a central stem or axis. They come in odd numbers of 5 – 9 leaflets. 

The leaves are up to 7” long, and the leaflets are ovate and serrated and typically come in pairs with the odd-numbered leaflet occurring at the end of the branch. The leaves resemble rose leaves, and some varieties are nicknamed to pay homage to this characteristic.

The bright green color of the foliage presents a wonderful complement to the color of the flowers. The overall effect of the foliage is rather dense but with a delicate, fernlike quality that sees them rustle with the breeze. It makes a great privacy screen when grown on a trellis or other supporting structure. 


Close-up of Cape Honeysuckle flowers against lush dark green foliage. The flowers are tubular, orange-red, with flared five petals and prominent long stamens.
The stunning, trumpet-like flowers in red, orange, or yellow steal the show.

The flowers are the main event for this plant. If the foliage is lovely, then the flowers are positively stunning. Trumpet-like blossoms of red, orange, or yellow bloom in clusters at the ends of branches. When it blooms, it does so with great enthusiasm, producing these clusters at the end of most, if not all, branches. 

The flowers are tubular in shape and about 2” long. These blooms are very attractive to birds, butterflies, and bees, and in particular, hummingbirds. The best thing about Cape Honeysuckle is that it can bloom year-round in warm climates. Even in cooler climates, it will have a nice long blooming season. Many varieties have a late blooming tendency, flowering from fall through the winter when fewer plants are in bloom.


Cape Honeysuckle plants are easy to propagate and practically does it for you if you are willing to wait a year. This nice, easy-to-manage plant really dresses up the garden with color for a long portion of the year. It’s a great plant to share with your fellow plant lovers, and it can be propagated by seed, cuttings, and runners that it produces on its own.


Close-up of starter trays filled with potting mix. Starting trays are made of plastic, black, have deep square cells. There are small sprouts in one of the trays. The sprouts have thin, upright stems and tiny green cotyledons.
Cape Honeysuckle produces seed pods that can be harvested and started in spring.

When the flowers are pollinated, which they nearly always are, they produce a seed pod. Allow these pods to dry, and then harvest the seeds. It’s best to start these seeds in the spring, soaking them overnight, and then plant them in a shallow seed starting tray. Cover lightly with a mixture of sand and potting soil.

Germination should occur within 6-21 days. Once they have developed substantial roots, they can be planted in the ground. The only drawback to growing this plant from seed is that it won’t bloom until its second year. Be certain to protect young plants in the winter. They will be much more vulnerable to fluctuating temperatures in their first year.


A close-up of a flowering Cape Honeysuckle plant in a sunny garden, against a blurred background. The plant has pinnately compound leaves of dark green color. Leaflets are oval, with serrated edges. The tubular flowers grow in clusters at the tips of the branches. The flowers are tubular with a curved or flared corolla bright orange. Long stamens protrude from the centers of the flowers.
To propagate, simply wait for a runner to emerge from the established plant about a year after planting.

This is the easiest way to propagate Cape Honeysuckle. All you have to do is wait for the plant to send out a runner, which they do about a year after planting, once the plant is established and has a solid foundation of roots. A runner will usually pop up a short distance from the mature stems, and it will be an exact replica of the parent plant.

These runners can be removed from the parent plant and transplanted to another location in the garden. Make sure to do this type of propagation during the plant’s active growing season. Use a sharp tool to detach the runner from its parent plant, leaving it with a bit of root to get started on.


Close-up of a flowering branch of the Cape Honeysuckle plant in a sunny garden, against a blurry background. The branch is long, slightly arched, covered with complex dark green leaves. The leaves consist of oval leaflets with serrated edges. At the end of the branch, a cluster of elongated tubular bright red flowers blooms.
It can also be propagated by taking 4″-5″ cuttings from a mature plant.

Cape Honeysuckle can be propagated by cuttings as well, and it is about as simple as growing them from seed, but it will get you a plant ready to bloom in the first year if the cutting is taken from a mature plant. 

Take 4”-5” cuttings and remove all but a few small leaves toward the end. Scrape the lower 1” of the stem, removing some of the woody outer layers. Exposing the tender tissue of the stem makes the cutting root faster. Dip this end in rooting hormone and plant in a moist potting medium. 

Caring for your cuttings is simple. You can cover the pot in a plastic bag or other covering to help maintain moisture, creating a greenhouse environment. Don’t allow the soil to dry out completely. Your cuttings should be rooted and beginning to grow in about 2-3 months.

How to Grow

Growing this plant is nearly foolproof. It grows as a perennial in my garden here in Zone 8. I give it very little attention and it dies back to the ground every winter, but in spring it pops back up, and by the end of summer, I have a very attractive and floriferous plant! 

Although most nurseries will sell this as only hardy to Zone 9, it grows nicely in Zone 8, and with a thick layer of mulch and some extra protection, I am willing to bet it would survive in Zone 7 as well. It is incredibly resilient.


Close-up of a flowering Cape Honeysuckle shrub in a sunny garden on a raised bed. The plant has lush, complex, bright green foliage with serrated edges. Clusters of closed long tubular bright red flowers grow on the branches.
Plant in spring or fall, considering its mature size and whether it will be a shrub or vine.

It is best to plant Cape Honeysuckle in the spring or fall to give it the best start. The stressful heat of summer should be avoided, as the plant will need more resources during this time to get established.

Keep in mind the mature size of this plant when choosing a location, making sure to give your plant plenty of room to spread out. Think about the height of the plant as well and decide whether you plan to train it to be a shrub or a vine. 

As a vine, Cape Honeysuckle can grow up to 30’ long. This is a significant plant and needs ample support! Ensure that any structure you plan to grow this vine on is strong enough to hold up under its weight. It is a woody vine and heavier than an actual Japanese honeysuckle

Once you’ve chosen a location, dig a hole that is as deep and 3 times as wide as the root ball. Loosening up the soil in this diameter will give the roots a healthy start. Position your plant in the hole and backfill. 

If you live above zone 8, it is perfectly reasonable to grow this plant in a container that can be brought indoors when the temperature drops below freezing. The plant will remain smaller and more manageable when kept in a container.


A close-up of a flowering Cape Honeysuckle shrub in a garden in full sun. The plant produces large clusters of many bright orange tubular flowers. The flowers have five flared petals and long protruding stamens.
The vine tolerates varying sun exposure, blooming in full sun or part shade.

This tropical flowering vine is not picky about sun exposure. It will bloom in full sun or part shade. In hotter climates, though, it will appreciate some shade in the afternoon to protect it from the harshness of the afternoon sun. In cooler climates, likewise, this plant will appreciate an abundance of sunlight during the cooler months.


Close-up of a Cape Honeysuckle flower covered in water drops, in a sunny garden, against a blurred dark green background. The flower is tubular, long, has a flared corolla of bright orange color.
It thrives with regular watering during the first year.

This is a water-loving plant; if given plenty, it will reward you with ample growth. However, it is also a drought-tolerant plant. That seems contradictory, but keep reading, and I will explain.

During the first year after planting, ensure that your shrub or vine gets at least an inch of water weekly. You may be able to water less frequently if your plant gets more shade, but as a rule, watering deeply once per week is a good idea. Watering deeply will encourage the roots to grow deep.

Once your plant is established, it shouldn’t need nearly as much attention. A Cape Honeysuckle with strong, healthy roots is quite drought-tolerant and hardy. An established plant may only need water occasionally during prolonged periods of dry weather.


Close-up of male hands holding dry soil against a blurred background of soil in a garden. The man is wearing a dark blue plaid shirt. The soil is dark brown, loose, with large granules.
It tolerates most soil types with good drainage, including compacted or clay-heavy soil.

Cape Honeysuckle tolerates most soil types as long as the drainage is good. If planting in very compacted or clay-heavy soil types, it’s a good idea to amend the soil with some coarse sand for improved drainage and root establishment. It is not picky about pH and can live in acidic or alkaline soil. It also grows well in coastal areas where the soil is sandy. It is salt tolerant as well.


Close-up of a man's hand with a handful of compost on a blurred background. The compost is organic, composed of various nutrients and worm castings.
The shrub benefits from annual feeding with balanced fertilizer if the soil lacks nutrients.

If your soil is lacking in nutrients, you can feed Cape Honeysuckle once a year with a balanced fertilizer. However, it might be better to simply amend your soil with some organic compost or other material, such as worm castings, before you plant. In general, this plant is efficient in making use of nutrients in the soil and is a very vigorous grower, so fertilizing is not always needed.

Climate and Temperature

Close-up of Cape Honeysuckle flowers in the garden, against a blurred green background. A large cluster of many triuate flowers of bright orange color. The flowers are tubular with a curved or flared corolla.
In warm, rainy climates, this tropical plant can become invasive, requiring regular removal of runners.

Cape Honeysuckle is a tropical landscape plant that loves warm, rainy climates. As such, it can become invasive in this environment, so gardeners living in tropical climates will need to keep a close watch and remove runners regularly to prevent it from taking over larger areas that you want to give it.


Close-up of a flowering Cape Honeysuckle plant in the garden, against a blurred background. The plant has lush complex foliage of bright green color. The leaves consist of oval leaflets with finely serrated edges. The plant forms tall stems with clusters of large, bright orange, tubular flowers.
Pruning depends on desired shape and size.

How you prune your Cape Honeysuckle will largely depend on what shape and size you want it to take on. As I mentioned earlier, this plant is very versatile in how large and in what form you can grow it. 

If you are growing it as a shrub, more pruning will be involved, as it will tend toward vining. Initially, pruning longer stems will encourage branching. As the plant grows, this will give it a denser, fuller appearance, and encourage it to spread out. 

Once you have attained the desired number of branches, trimming the top periodically will help to keep the foliage full and lush. It is best to prune in spring or fall.

If you want a climbing plant that takes on more of a vining habit, you can leave your plant to its own devices for a few years, pruning little else but damaged or dead branches from time to time to maintain the plant’s general health. 

Once your plant has reached the size you would like it to remain, you can prune yearly, in spring or fall, or both, if you have a specific size or shape you would like to maintain.


Close-up of a flowering Cape Honeysuckle shrub in a sunny garden. The shrub is lush, has pinnately compound leaves of dark green color. The leaves consist of oval leaflets with serrated edges. The plant produces large clusters of bright orange flowers. The flowers are elongated, tubular in shape with five petals and long protruding stamens.
This is a low-maintenance plant that thrives with minimal care.

Cape Honeysuckle is a very low-maintenance plant. It truly can handle as little or as much tending as you are inclined or have the time to carry out. Once it is established, this plant happily occupies its space and any additional space you want to give it. It requires little in the way of supplementary irrigation or fertilization, and it is quite disease and pest resistant.

Pests and Diseases

With very few exceptions, Cape Honeysuckle is unlikely to give you any issues in terms of pests and diseases. In fact, aside from root rot, there are no diseases that are a particular danger to these plants, and only the everyday garden pests to keep an eye out for.


Close-up of leaves infested with aphids. The leaves are bright green, oval, covered with drops of water. Aphids are tiny insects with soft, pear-shaped green bodies.
Aphids cause damage to plants by feeding on sap, leading to shriveled leaves and brown spots.

If you notice shriveling leaves and brown spots, you may be looking at an insect infestation. Aphids are enemy number one in the garden, as they feed on a wide variety of different types of plants. These tiny insects appear in clusters, typically on newer growth, such as tender branches or flower buds. 

Aphids suck the sap from the plant tissue, leaving it malnourished and unhealthy. They also leave behind a sticky, sweet excrement called honeydew. This honeydew provides the perfect environment for black sooty mold to grow, which interferes with photosynthesis, and stunts the plant’s growth.

A mild solution of soapy water sprayed on the aphids will go a long way in safely treating this infestation. They also dislike aromatic herbs and are a main food source for ladybugs. Attracting or bringing these little predators to your garden will do good for all of your plants.


Close-up of a leaf infested with scale pests. The leaves are green, with a smooth texture, covered with pests. Scale are small insects that form a round, brown, waxy shell.
These tiny pests feed on sweet plant sap, causing shriveled leaves and brown spots.

Scales are another common garden pest that likes to feed on sweet plant sap, leaving behind shriveled leaves, brown spots, and honeydew. They are small and brown and commonly hang out in groups around the joints of stems and the underside of leaves. 

Scale can be treated with a horticultural oil spray. The oil coats and suffocates the scale by clogging their breathing pores. Wasps also like to eat scales, as do some beetles and lacewings. 

Root Rot

A close-up of a flowering Cape Honeysuckle plant affected by a fungal disease. The shrub has bright orange tubular flowers and compound leaves. The leaves are composed of several oval leaflets with serrated edges. The leaves are wilted, turning yellow.
Root rot is usually due to poor drainage, resulting in browning and spotty leaves.

Root rot is an issue with many plants, especially those that need good drainage in terms of soil and containers. Cape Honeysuckle falls into this category. While they are not as susceptible to root rot as some other tropical plants, it is not unheard of. 

If you notice your leaves turning brown or looking spotty, there is a chance your plant may have root rot. The best solution is to give the plant a break from watering. Root rot prevents the plant from transporting important nutrients from the soil to the foliage. This can manifest in an unhappy-looking plant. 

If you accidentally planted in an area with poor drainage, you can rectify the situation in one of two ways. You can relocate the plant, which Cape Honeysuckle is quite tolerant of. The other option is to amend the soil around your plant’s roots by mixing coarse sand to increase drainage.


Close-up of a flowering plant Tecomaria capensis 'Apricot' against a blurred background. The plant has a bunch of tubular long peach-apricot flowers. The petals have dark pink veins. Long, thin stamens protrude from their flower centers.
Tecomaria capensis ‘Apricot’ is a compact variety with peachy flowers and light green foliage.
botanical-name botanical name Tecomaria capensis ‘Apricot’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun to Part Sun
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 9-11

‘Apricot’ is a compact variety. This plant with the pretty, peachy flowers has light green foliage and is typically kept as a small hedge. Unlike larger varieties, this one is easier to manage in terms of invasiveness.

It is, however, rare and more difficult to find than other varieties. Apricot blooms best during cooler weather and prefers full sun but will still bloom in part shade.


Close-up of a flowering plant Tecomaria capensis 'Aurea' against a blurred background. The plant has long spreading branches with complex leaves. Large clusters of bright yellow tubular flowers grow on the branches. The leaves are dark green, composed of oval toothed leaflets.
The ‘Aurea’ variety is a vigorous climber with long branches that produce abundant clusters of bright yellow flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Tecomaria capensis ‘Aurea’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun to Part Sun
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 9-11

This larger variety can grow quite large if left unchecked. If you’re looking for a vining cultivar, this one’s branches will grow quite long. At the ends of these long, sprawling branches emerge large clusters of bright yellow, tubular flowers. This fast grower blooms best in winter and likes to climb.


Close-up of a flowering plant Tecomaria capensis 'Coccinea' against a blurred background. The plant forms a bunch of elongated tubular bright red flowers with long protruding stamens from the centers. The leaves are bright green, glossy, compound, composed of several leaflets arranged along the central stem. Leaflets are oval, with serrated edges.
The ‘Coccinea’ cultivar is a moderate-sized plant, producing vibrant red flowers primarily in spring and fall.
botanical-name botanical name Tecomaria capensis ‘Coccinea’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 9-11

Coccinea is a midsized variety with a moderate growth rate, making it easy to manage. It can grow up to 12’ tall over time and equally as wide if not trimmed regularly to maintain its size and shape.

The flowers on this cultivar are bright red, and most prevalent in spring and fall, although they have been known to bloom through the summer as well. 

‘Orange Jubilee’

Close-up of a flowering Tecomaria x 'Orange Jubilee' plant in a sunny garden. The plant displays brilliant orange tubular flowers and lush bright green foliage. The flowers are large, tubular, with five petals.
The ‘Orange Jubilee’ hybrid is a cold-tolerant grower, blooming profusely with striking orange and red tubular flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Tecomaria x ‘Orange Jubilee’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-11

Technically a hybrid, this variety is a vigorous grower with slightly better cold tolerance than other varieties. It will grow under just about any circumstances and is an exceptional bloomer, with a long season spanning from spring through the fall.

Its brilliant flowers are orange and red, tubular, and striking against bright green foliage. Hummingbirds will flock to this plant!


Close-up of a flowering plant Tecomaria capensis 'Salmon' against a blue sky. The plant has bright salmon-colored flowers. The flowers are tubular and have 5 petals. Long stamens protrude from the centers of the flowers.
The ‘Salmon’ variety is a fantastic cultivar that is cold tolerant, with bright salmon flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Tecomaria capensis ‘Salmon’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun to Part Shade
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-11

Also known as ‘Hammer’s Rose,’ the ‘Salmon’ variety is simply wonderful. It is cold tolerant to 23°, making it commonly evergreen to zone 8, although it may lose leaves when the temperature drops below freezing.

The flowers are a bright salmon shade and bloom most in fall and winter, although they are likely to stick around throughout the year in warmer climates. This cultivar is more difficult to find and more compact than others. 

Final Thoughts

Whether you want to grow it as a large shrub, trailing vine, or indoor plant, this tropical flower is a dazzling addition to any garden. It requires very little care and attracts beautiful hummingbirds. Just be sure to check if it is invasive in your area before planting outside.

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