Friday, October 25, 2013

Plant ABCs: T is for Tecoma Stans

Plant ABCs is an ongoing series where I highlight a plant from my garden for each letter of the alphabet.  I'm currently going through the entire alphabet A - Z, then will continue updating and adding plants to the list over time.  My previous posts in this series are on the "Plant ABCs" tab under the header.  Today's letter is "T" and Tecoma stans is the choice.  It's also Texas Native Plant Week so featuring Texas native Tecoma stans or Esperanza fits right in with this week's theme.

When I first began observing local landscapes for ideas the striking Esperanza with its bright yellow flowers from spring to fall stood out as a must-have plant.

Native to rocky limestone slopes around San Antonio, Tecoma Stans is one of the most xeric plants in my landscape. Planted in the rockiest, hottest part of the yard it grows and blooms all summer without a drop of supplemental water.  It thrives in our full summer sun.

The deer can sometimes browse a new young plant so I cover newly planted ones with a wire basket until they grow out.

From the Texas Native Plants Database:

The striking, tubular 2 1/2-inch bright yellow flowers are highlighted by the attractive, shiny, green foliage and continue through the heat of the summer. The flowers have an odd but pleasing fragrance and also provide nectar for bees. The Indians made bows from its wood, and in Mexico a beer was prepared from its roots; it has also been used for a variety of medicines.

Esperanza is related to the trumpet vine as a close look at the flowers will confirm.  The clusters of bright yellow flowers set off by the foliage stand-out during our many sunny days.  There is also an orange flowering selection available now too.

Tecoma stans adds a bright backdrop for the cactus garden in the back yard.   Its large size (this one is about eight feet high) and leafy texture creates a good backdrop for the smaller plants in the cactus garden.

I have a second Esperanza near the front of the garage which will be moved this winter because it is in too much shade and we prefer an evergreen plant in that spot to hide the trash can enclosure.  It was planted at the same time as the one in the back yard and there's now a height difference of several feet due to the shady location.

The native range for Esperanza extends west to Arizona, east to Florida and down into South America so it is only marginally hardy below zone 8.  Esperanza loses foliage in most winters here and can sometimes die back more significantly in a harsh winter.  It needs a mild winter or winter protection to get established during the first year.  Once established it can take our occasional deep freezes and prolonged cold snaps pretty well.

Esperanza or Tecoma stans is an excellent choice for San Antonio landscapes.

The details:

Exposure: full sun
Blooms: Spring through Fall
Shrub:  3 to 10+ feet height, 3 to 4 feet wide
Soil Requirements: neutral alkaline
Hardiness Zone:  8


  1. I picked up on the similarity to trumpet vine right away, but my 'Madame Galen' blooms only briefly. Your use of natives is really paying off.

    1. I have added a pink trumpet vine near the shed and so far it has not bloomed much. Perhaps next year.

  2. It is a great plant with fabulous blooms. Unfortunately here in north-eastern Oz, it's a nuisance plant and is classified as en environmental weed here. I used to grow them in previous gardens, but I haven't planted one for many years now. I do miss their wonderful 'bells'.

    1. So many of our locally native plants seem to get out of control when they end up on the other side of the planet. Same with some plants from your part of the world which have ended up here. At least you have many wonderful plants to choose from which do stay within bounds.

  3. I love the look of this plant, but won't try one because I don't think it could take my winters. I was amazed when you said yours was 8 ft tall. I bet it's a nice ray of yellow sunshine there!

    1. You are probably too far north for Esperanza. It is very bright and cheery when many plants are sleeping in late summer. The typical is 6 ft. but there are many around SA at least that tall or more due to two mild winters in a row.

  4. What a beautiful plant. I've seen it grown here in pots that were put in a greenhouse during the winter! Happy weekend!

  5. This is one Texas native I have seen offered here in SoCal. I tried it once years ago at our old house but there was too much shade and it failed to thrive. I'll have to try it somewhere at our current location.

  6. New plant for me and I love the butterscotch yellow flower.

  7. Perhaps hummingbirds like it. It's too cold here for it but it's great you can grow something that blooms so well in summer.

  8. Shirley, your blog about esparanza was perfect timing! I was at a friends house Friday and she was upset that the deer at eaten her new plants. I sent her your blog and she's now ready to give them another try. She just needs to keep them protected for awhile. I always tell people that if the Texas Highway Dept. plants them next to the freeways and they thrive, that's a hardy plant. No water, full sun and they are blooming their little hearts out for all to see as they drive by!

  9. Hi Shirley, i've not been coming here as i can't put my comment for several attempts. I wonder why that is, at least now in a different computer i was able to get through.

    I didn't know that Tecoma stans is a native of Texas, we have an island here where it is a normal vegetation in the wild too. It really is beautiful so i got some seeds, but was not successful in germinating them. They are beautiful as hedges in some highways here too.


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