Add tropical flair to your yard with this dazzling, easy-to-grow Tecoma stansBy Janet Loughrey, Garden Writer & Photographer
Chicklet™ Orange esperanza. Photo by: Proven Winners.
If you like the brightly colored flowers of trumpet vine, esperanza is a good alternative, with compact varieties suitable for small spaces. This evergreen shrub or small tree grows year-round in frost-free regions of California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida. In colder areas, esperanza can be treated as an annual or overwintered indoors in a container.
Esperanza plants add tropical ambience to the landscape with their profuse clusters red, orange, or yellow trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom over an exceptionally long time. Lightly fragrant blooms are a favorite of hummingbirds, butterflies, bees and other insect pollinators. Here’s how to grow and care for this exotic plant.
On this page: Basics | Planting | Care and Maintenance | Pictures | How to Choose the Right Esperanza| Design Ideas
On this page:
- HOW TO PLANT ESPERANZA
- ESPERANZA CARE AND MAINTENANCE
- ESPERANZA PICTURES
- CHOOSING THE RIGHT ESPERANZA
- DESIGN IDEAS
Tecoma stans, syn. Tecoma alata
Esperanza, trumpet flower, yellow trumpetbush, yellow bells, yellow elder, Tecoma plant, ginger-thomas, and yellow bignonia.
Native to the Americas from the southern U.S. to Argentina.
9-11, though some varieties may survive down to zone 8. In areas that experience light freezes, plants may die back to the ground in winter.
Upright bushy habit. In its native habitat, esperanza can reach 15 to 30 feet tall and 10 to 30 feet wide, though plants typically stay smaller in the U.S. Dwarf varieties are smaller.
Spring through frost, with peak flowering in summer. Plants bloom nearly year-round in frost-free climates.
Trumpet-shaped yellow, orange, or red flowers, 3 to 5 inches long, are mildly fragrant. Flower clusters produce up to 50 blooms each. After flowering, plants produce thin bean-like seed pods that start out pale green, turning to brown.
Photo by: Sophon Nawit / Shutterstock
Serrated, glossy green foliage grows opposite each other along slender stems.
Is esperanza invasive?
Tecoma stans has been identified as invasive in some areas of southern Florida; see where.
HOW TO PLANT ESPERANZA PLANTS
When to plant:
Esperanza can be planted during cooler months of spring or fall.
Where to plant:
Place in a site that receives full sun. Plants can tolerate some shade, but may become lanky and produce fewer flowers with less light.
How to plant:
Loosen soil in planting area and amend with compost or other rich organic matter. Dig a hole twice as wide and slightly deeper than the root ball. Remove plant from the nursery container and loosen roots if potbound. Place the plant in the hole so the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding soil. Fill in the hole with soil, tamp down gently to remove air pockets, and water thoroughly. Water regularly until established.
Esperanza prefers sandy, rocky, limestone, or loamy soil; it can tolerate almost any well-drained soil. Plants grow best in organically rich soil with a pH from 6.1 to 7.8
Make sure pots have adequate drainage holes. Use a high quality all-purpose potting soil and blend with a ratio of 2 parts potting soil, 1 part coarse sand, and 1 part peat moss.
ESPERANZA PLANT CARE
Photo by: Yadakate / Shutterstock
Esperanza is drought-tolerant once established, but performs best with moderate water. Irrigate regularly, every week to 10 days, allowing plants to dry out between waterings. Plants will need more frequent watering during extreme heat and prolonged dry spells.
Container plants need to be watered more often than those in the ground. Avoid overwatering.
Plants need very little supplemental fertilizer. Apply an all-purpose slow-release fertilizer at the time of planting. To increase bloom and vigor for plants in poor soil, feed every one to two months during the growing season with an all-purpose granular or liquid fertilizer. Mulch around the base in spring with a layer of compost.
Container plants will benefit from an application of liquid fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks in summer.
Esperanza blooms on new wood and needs little or no pruning. Lightly shape after peak bloom, from fall to late winter. Cut out dead or diseased branches at any time of year. Plants can be left as a shrub or trained into a small tree. Cut plants back to the ground if they die back after a hard freeze.
Deadhead spent flowers in summer to encourage rebloom and trim off seed pods to keep plants tidy.
Pests and diseases:
When planted in the right conditions, plants have few insect or disease problems. Pests include aphids, spider mites, or scale.
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Photo by: Proven Winners
Chicklet™ Orange — Buy now from Proven Winners
Height/Width: 3 to 6 feet tall, 2 to 4 feet wide
Clusters of brilliant orange-yellow flowers bloom continuously all summer long. This dwarf variety is ideal for smaller spaces and pots and cold hardy to Zone 8.
Photo by: Huaykwang / Shutterstock
Height/Width: 10 to 18 feet tall, 10 to 15 feet wide
The most common variety of esperanza, clusters of bright yellow flowers bloom nonstop from spring to frost.
Photo by: Hort Pics / Millette Photomedia
'Bells of Fire'
Height/Width: 4 to 6 feet tall, 3 to 4 feet wide
Fiery red flowers add sizzling color to beds, borders and patios. This compact variety is suitable for small spaces and containers. Will bloom in light shade in hotter climates.
Photo by: sarawut muensang / Shutterstock
Height/Width: 10 to 20 feet tall, 8 to 12 fet wide
Four-inch-long blooms are orange-yellow with distinct darker orange markings around the throat and outer petals. Plants may survive down to Zone 8b with a heavy mulch in winter.
Photo by: The Huntington Library / Flickr
Height/Width: 6 to 8 feet tall and wide
Two-toned flowers 1 to 2 inches across are coppery orange on the outer buds, opening to sunny yellow with orange streaked throats.
Photo by: RMIngram Photography / Flickr
Height/Width: 6 to 8 feet tall, 4 to 6 feet wide
Sunny yellow flowers 2 to 3 inches across are similar to yellow bells, though plants have a smaller stature.
Photo by: Needleloca / Flickr
Height/Width: 3 to 5 feet tall and wide
Developed at Arizona State University and named after the school mascot, the flowers have rich apricot yellow petals that contrast dramatically with veined orange-red throats.
Photo by: Hort Pics / Millette Photomedia
Height/Width: 6 to 7 feet tall and wide
Clusters of golden yellow flowers will light up a patio, deck or border. ‘Gold Star’ esperanza blooms earlier than other varieties, making it suitable for cooler regions where plants are treated as annuals or container specimens.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT ESPERANZA
For borders and landscapes: Use medium and large varieties as hedging or privacy screening, or naturalize in the landscape. Dwarf forms can be used as groundcovers, foundation plantings, in curbside strips or massed in the landscape.
For slopes and hillsides: Mass a smaller form along a bank or slope for a carefree display that will also help to stem erosion.
For containers: Smaller specimens are suitable for containers. In climates colder than Zone 9, esperanza can be grown in containers and overwintered indoors.
LANDSCAPE DESIGN TIPS
There are many ways to incorporate esperanza into your landscape. Here’s how:
- Place a smaller variety in a colorful decorative pot and place by your home’s entryway for a dazzling first impression.
- Place a larger form at the end of a pathway as a colorful focal point to draw the eye through the landscape.
- Decorate a sunny apartment balcony with a smaller specimen in a colorful pot.
- Combine a smaller variety of esperanza with other shrubs as a foundation planting along the front of your home.
- Plant a larger variety as a privacy hedge or shrub border along a property line.
- Train a medium-sized variety into a small tree for an elegant accent in a courtyard or border.
- Plant a medium-to-large variety as a stand-alone specimen in an island bed in the lawn.
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