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It's almost too good to be true.

It's almost too good to be true

Cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) can hardly be praised enough. A South African emigrant, it can handle climates that range from the seacoast to the desert. And it's so versatile that you can grow it as a shrub, screening hedge, tall ground cover, vine, or big container plant. On top of all that, it grows fast and is free of pests.

The divided leaves of Cape honeysuckle are a shiny dark green with prominent veins. In mild-winter areas, the plant is evergreen. Frost will make leaves drop and may even kill branches down to the roots, but they usually grow right back. Temperatures much below 25| will probably kill the plant.

Blossoms open in clusters at branch ends as shown above. They bloom in the fall and may continue through mild winters into late spring. In summer, some flowers open sporadically. The variety "Aurea' or "Golden' has deep yellow blooms.

Plant this honeysuckle in full sun in welldrained soil. Plants seem to do better if you let the soil dry out slightly between waterings. In hot-summer valleys, water at least once a week in summer, more often if the plant seems to suffer.

You prune Cape honeysuckle to make it what you want. For a vine, train it up a trellis. To train it as a ground cover (2 to 3 feet high), remove upward-growing branches and let low-growing ones run and take root. To make a 6- to 8-foot-tall shrub or hedge, shorten the low-growing branches and save the upright ones.

Where frosts may be sharp, plant Cape honeysuckle in a large tub and prune it as a display plant; move it to a protected spot in winter.

Photo: Tube-shaped orange blooms of Cape honeysuckle are 2 inches long
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Title Annotation:plant Cape honeysuckle
Date:Mar 1, 1984
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