Tecoma Stans: How To Grow and Care For Yellow Bells

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Tecoma Stans is a perennial flowering shrub known for its highly attractive and bright-colored flowers from the (trumpet vine) family Bignoniaceae.

Also in the family is Tecomaria capensis the orange cape honeysuckle.

Bright yellow flowers of Tecoma Stans aka Yellow BellsPin

It’s native to native to North America, South America, Central America, the Sonoran Desert, Arizona, California, Southern  Florida, Texas, West Indies, and Mexico and grows on roadsides, hillsides, high elevations, slopes, and canyons. 

It is also known as Bignonia stans and Stenolobium stans.

Apart from these botanical names, the plant is widely known by many common names:

  • Yellow elder
  • Yellow bells
  • Trumpet bush
  • Trumpet flower
  • Yellow trumpetbush
  • Yellow trumpet flower
  • Esperanza
  • Ginger-Thomas
  • Hardy Yellow Trumpet

The first part of the scientific name, i.e., Tecoma, is derived from the plant’s Mexican name Tecomaxochiti, which means “vessel flower.”

Stans, on the other hand, means “standing” or “erect.”

Yellow bells are the official flower of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Tecoma Stans Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Tecoma stans
  • Common Name(s): Yellow Bells, Esperanza, Trumpet Bush, Yellow elder, Trumpet flower, Yellow trumpetbush, Yellow trumpet flower, Esperanza, Ginger-Thomas, Hardy Yellow Trumpet
  • Synonyms: Bignonia stans, Tecoma stans var. angustata
  • Pronunciation: Tek-OH-muh, stanz
  • Family & Origin: Bignoniaceae family, native to North America, South America, and Central America, Sonoran Desert, Arizona, California, Southern Florida, Texas, West Indies, and Mexico.
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: 7-11
  • Size: Can grow up to 10′ to 25′ feet tall and 10′ to 20′ feet wide
  • Flowering: Blooms from April to November with bright yellow trumpet-shaped flowers
  • Light: Full sun with at least six hours of sunlight every day
  • Humidity: Prefers medium moisture
  • Temperature: Can tolerate 70° to 90° degrees Fahrenheit
  • Soil: Organically rich, moderately moist, and well-drained soil
  • Water: Moderately moist soil; avoid waterlogging the plant
  • Fertilizer: Feed it with an all-purpose fertilizer once in summer
  • Pests & Diseases: Can be susceptible to caterpillars, spider mites, and whiteflies and may develop root rot if overwatered
  • Propagation: Can be propagated through stem cuttings or by seed
  • Plant Uses: Can be used as a hedge, accent plant, landscaping plant, or in a mixed border. Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.

While many Tecoma cultivars and hybrids have been developed and claim to produce more and better-colored flowers, none can beat the cold hardiness and drought tolerance of Tecoma stans var. angustata; Arizona yellow bells.

Tecoma Stans Care

Size and Growth

Yellow elder is a fast-growing, evergreen, and irregularly shaped deciduous shrub (or small tree).

While it has the potential to grow up to 10′ to 25′ feet tall and 10′ to 20′ feet wide, it typically remains between 3’ – 6’ feet in height when grown in the United States.

It features pale brown to gray colored bark (which roughens as the plant ages), several erect and slender branches, and compound, olive green leaves made of lanceolate (lance-shaped) leaflets.

The plant also produces clusters of long, thin, and slightly flattened pods in autumn, which are fruits and contain numerous papery-winged seeds.

The plant is considered a ruderal species because it often colonizes disturbed sandy, rocky, and cleared lands.

It’s used as a landscaping plant and a nice patio tree. It sometimes becomes an invasive weed.

Yellow Flowers and Fragrance

The bright yellow trumpet-shaped flowers are the major attraction of Tecoma stans.

The pinnate racemes are large, slightly fragrant, and grow in clusters from April till November.

The long flowering season is followed by the production of fruits.

Light and Temperature

Trumpet flower plant grows best in warm climates under full sun.

It is native to the Sonoran Desert, which is spread across parts of Arizona, California, and Mexico.

When growing in your garden, plant this fast-growing evergreen shrub at a site where it receives at least six hours of sunlight every day.

While the plant is likely to tolerate shade, it will affect its growth – yellow elder will not grow as upright and full in the shade as it does in the sun.

An inadequate amount of sunlight also affects the plant’s blooming.

It prefers an ideal warm temperature between 70° to 90° degrees Fahrenheit but may only require warm temperatures of 50° degrees Fahrenheit to survive.

T. stans are likely to go dormant when the temperature falls below 28° degrees Fahrenheit (-2° C) and may also get frost-damaged.

But it usually grows again in spring; you have to cut it back to encourage new growth.

It’s hardy to USDA hardiness zone 7-11.

Watering and Feeding

The water requirements of the ginger-thomas plant are moderate; it prefers moderately moist soil.

However, it is also drought-tolerant and is considered one of the easiest plants to grow in desert landscapes. It prefers medium moisture.

It doesn’t like waterlogged soil and wet roots.

Too much water will damage the plant, often causing rot and mildew.

Therefore, be careful of watering and add about 1″ – 2″ inch compost layer into the soil if it’s not well-draining.

The Tecoma plant typically doesn’t require fertilizing.

However, if it is not growing or flowering properly despite the right growing conditions and care, feed it with an all-purpose fertilizer once in summer.

Soil and Transplanting

While Tecoma stans is a hardy plant that can grow in almost all soil types, it prefers organically rich, moderately moist, and well-drained soil.

Grooming and Maintenance

Once established, the trumpet creeper doesn’t need much maintenance.

However, pruning and pinching the spent pods and flowers encourage bushiness and blooming.

Cut back your yellow bell plant if it gets damaged or dies in the winter to encourage new growth.

Since the plant grows quickly and spreads up to several feet, it is recommended to plant it at a site with plenty of room for growth.

How To Propagate Yellow Bells?

Trumpet bush is propagated through seeds and softwood cuttings.

For propagating through seeds:

  • Let the pods ripen and turn pale brown, and then collect the seeds anytime from late summer to fall.
  • Air-dry the seeds at room temperature and then store them.
  • Sow the dried seeds after the end of the winter season in loose and moist fine soil to ensure quick germination.
  • Make sure the soil is moist but not soggy.

Yellow Bells Pest Or Diseases

Yellow trumpet bush isn’t typically prone to serious pests or diseases, but it is recommended to watch out for whiteflies and spider mites when grown indoors.

The outdoor plants may get infested with caterpillars.

Related: Read more on How To Get Rid of Leaf Eating Caterpillars.

Use an organic insecticide (neem) to deal with the problem if it occurs.

The plant attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees and is also a desirable fodder for livestock.

It’s also moderately deer resistant.

Tecoma Stans Uses

Esperanza plants have lately gained huge popularity as popular landscaping plant due to their beautiful flower color, spectacular appearance, drought tolerance, and hardiness.

They are also among the most widely cultivated flowering plants in perennial rock gardens and private garden and are also grown in containers for use as patio plants.

They also complement and help enhance the look of Spanish architecture and make an excellent potted specimen plant.

Tecoma stans are also commonly mixed into border shrubs in the landscape.

In addition to the vibrant flowers, the long blooming period, low-maintenance requirements, drought resistance, low cost, and easy availability are some more reasons for the popularity of yellow elder plants.

Moreover, Native Americans in the southwest U.S. and Mexico use this shrub as medicine, bee fodder, and bowmaking.

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