Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today

 
 

NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.

 
 
 
 

NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.

 
 
 
 

New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.

 
 
 
 

Plant Profiles

Yellow-flowered Cape Honeysuckle

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These trumpets are so pale they barely qualify as "yellow."  Who knew Cape Honeysuckle could be so restrained?  The usual flowers for Tecomaria capensis are orange or even vermillion; the tight clusters at the tips of branches make this sprawling South African shrub look a lot like a cousin of northern trumpet vines. 

 

And a cousin it is—although, thankfully, it doesn't have the trumpet's dismaying ability to sprout from the roots far and wide. 

 

tecomaria-capensis-lutea-overall-640

 

I have two pots of Cape Honeysuckle—this pale yellow 'Lutea' and the vermillion-flowered species itself—that I keep in pots.  They come into bloom in Summer and continue as long as the weather's warm, then snooze during the cold months in a cool but frost-free greenhouse.

 

Why don't I also get the pink cultivar, too?  Pink gardens need all the hot-weather help they can get.  Next summer.   

 

 

 

Here's how to grow this enthusiastic subtropical shrub:

 

Latin Name

Tecomaria capensis 'Lutea'

Common Name

Yellow-flowered Cape Honeysuckle

Family

Bignoniaceae, the Trumpet-vine family.

What kind of plant is it?

Evergreen vining shrub.

Hardiness

Zone 9 to 10.

Habit

Woody but often sprawling and vine-like.

Rate of Growth

Fast.

Size in ten years

To ten feet wide and tall, depending on if it's clipped or not.

Texture

Tecomaria has lacy compound foliage that has an airiness similar to that of jasmines, but its growth can be so dense and vigorous that it usually brings a solid mounding presence to the garden.  Unless the long shoots are trained or clipped, this otherwise gorgeous shrub can look weedy.

Grown for

its flowers.  Tight clusters of narrow upright trumpets at the tips of the new growth are excellently highlighted atop the dark-green foliage.  Hummingbirds love them, too.  'Lutea' flowers are pale yellow, a delicate surprise in color for such a vigorous and sometimes out-of-control bush.

 

its toughness.  Give Tecomaria lots of sun and warmth and it will bloom almost anywhere it's hardy.  Tolerates regular pruning—although it can bloom a lot less then—as well as complete neglect. 

Flowering season

Can flower almost year-round when happiest in frost-free climates that are warm during the day but cooler at night.  In climates that are slightly colder, flowers from Spring and Fall.  In colder climates, where it can grow as a deciduous or even die-back shrub, flowers only during hot weather.

Culture

Tecomaria is so tolerant that it would be an excellent flowering shrub for beginners.  Plant in almost any normally-draining soil, water it occasionally to get it established the first year, and then it can handle itself.

How to handle it

Tecomaria are tough evergreens where they're fully hardy, needing little water after establishment.  Their fast and sprawling growth makes them naturals for elevated spots where they can cascade.  Or to be trained up a stake to make a small weeping shrub. 

 

They tolerate pruning so well that they are often grown as hedges—although their quick growth means you'd have to prune them often.  In this sense, they're the privet of the subtropics.

 

Because they are so casually floriferous and vigorous, they can be taken for granted where they are hardy—again, like privet.  Reasonable soil, plenty of sun, watering well that first season, and after that they can survive on their own. 

 

But the colorful clusters of flowers deserve attention and so, therefore, should the entire shrub.  Plant Tecomaria, then, less often—but love it more.  Staked plants develop a woody trunk that, eventually, makes them self-supporting.  With occasional pinching of the long new growth, you can have a full-headed standard that still gets plenty of flowers.  To control overall size, cut way back before growth resumes in late Winter.

 

If you grow Tecomaria in-ground in the subtropics, care is a matter of control: Pinching the tips, tying-in the branches if you're training onto a fence or espalier frame, or pruning overall if you're growing as a hedge.  The bush will sprout from the base or even from the roots, so Tecomaria can be grown as a die-back shrub in cooler climates (say, the Carolinas) as long as you mulch heavily for the Winter and don't cut back the Winter-killed growth until early Spring.  

 

Tecomaria thrive long-term in containers and, fortunately, seem to bloom just as well when pot-bound.  Overwinter in bright light in frost-free conditions, but the plant will survive just fine if "frost-free" means just cool instead of warm.  Active growth and the blooms it brings will resume in the Spring.  Fertilize and water generously in warm weather to encourage more growth and flowering.   

Downsides

Tecomaria is pest-free; the challenge is restraining or training the quick growth.

Variants

Tecomaria flowers can be vermillion, orange, salmon, pale yellow, or even pink, so the shrub can be a part of almost any color scheme.  A salmon cultivar is also semi-dwarf, without the long shoots: reason enough to get going on a salmon-friendly garden! 

Availability

On-line as well as, occasionally, at retailers.

Propagation

By cuttings or by digging up root sprouts.

Native habitat

Tecomaria is native to South Africa.

 
 
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