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How & When to Prune Cape Honeysuckle Plant

Cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) is an ornamental perennial shrub. It originated in South Africa, grows fast and has vine-like qualities. Cape honeysuckle thrives in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11. The foliage stays green year-round in the warmer climates, but is semi-deciduous in cooler areas. The large flowers bloom most of the year and range in color from yellow to orange, scarlet and salmon, depending on the variety. Cape honeysuckle can be grown as a vine, shrub or ground cover. Pruning it will keep it healthy and looking good.

Prune cape honeysuckle plants before new growth begins in mid-spring. The best time is usually late winter or early spring. Any later than that, and you risk cutting off new growth.

Snip off flowers after they are done blooming. This will improve the appearance of the cape honeysuckle plant.

Remove branches that appear woody. These are unproductive and do not have buds that will form. Snipping them off at their base will allow growth in other areas.

Trim off unruly branches if you want the honeysuckle to form a bush-like shape. Cut right next to a bud to encourage growth along that branch and create a more rounded appearance.

Prune cape honeysuckle plants that serve as ground cover. Cut off any branches that are growing up, as opposed to spreading out. This will train the stems to stay close to the ground. Repeat the pruning regularly to keep the plant from growing too tall.

Reshape the plant if needed. Cape honeysuckle can withstand a hard pruning. If necessary, cut it down significantly after blooming to control its size and reshape it.

Cape Honeysuckle

Gardeners prize cape honeysuckle for its vividly colored flowers and evergreen foliage. The slightly glossy, pinnately compound, green leaves grow as five- to seven-toothed leaflets about 2 inches long. It grows up to 12 feet tall as a round-shaped shrub or can spread or meander horizontally 25 feet or more as a vine. The cultivar determines the flower color with “Aurea” giving golden yellow flowers, “Coccinea” producing scarlet flowers and “Salmonea” bearing pink to orange flowers. It likes moist, but well-drained, clay, loamy or sandy soil with any pH. Cape honeysuckle tolerates moderate drought once established, but grows best with a deep watering once per week. Temperatures of 28 degrees Fahrenheit and below damage branches and may kill the aboveground portion of the plant. Luckily, cape honeysuckle quickly recovers when the weather warms. Cape honeysuckle is unlikely to attract pests but may be sensitive to mineral deficiencies or nutrient and mineral excesses. Common causes of deficiencies include waterlogged soil and nematodes.


Keep pruning shears sharp.


Clean pruning shears with rubbing alcohol after each use.

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