How to Care for an Esperanza Plant
The esperanza plant (Tecoma stans), also known as yellow bells and yellow elder, is a broadleaf evergreen that may develop as a shrub or a small tree. It is grown primarily for its bright yellow, bell-shaped flowers.
While it is only hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 to 11, which limits where in the U.S. it can be planted outdoors, the esperanza plant can be grown in containers and overwintered indoors outside of its hardiness zone.
The esperanza plant has become invasive in south Florida and is therefore not recommended in that region.
Esperanza Tree Soil and Sun Needs
Esperanza plants can be grown from seed or from soft cuttings. The ideal soil for an esperanza bush is rich in organic matter and has a neutral or alkaline pH. However, this plant can handle many types of soil.
Well-draining soil is key to growing esperanza plants, which is something to consider when deciding where to plant this shrub outdoors or what kind of container to use. If you are working with heavy clay soil, you'll want to amend it with organic matter.
Esperanza plants should be situated where they will receive full sun, though they can handle some afternoon shade.
If you are overwintering a potted esperanza plant indoors, keep it in a room with plenty of sun.
Watering an Esperanza Plant
Native to the Southwestern United States and parts of northern Mexico, the esperanza plant is well-adapted to life in the desert. That means it does not require much water to look its best. Rain usually provides all the moisture this plant needs.
During the growing season, water an esperanza plant once or twice a month when the soil dries out. It is also a good idea to cut back on water in late winter.
Esperanza Plant Fertilizer Needs
When preparing a garden bed for an esperanza plant, add a slow-release fertilizer with a 12-6-6 formula to the soil at a rate of 2 pounds per 100 square feet. After that, the plant should be lightly fertilized every four to six weeks.
Esperanza plants grown in containers should be fertilized on a biweekly basis. A diluted 20-20-20 fertilizer formula that is water-soluble works well for this species. As a general rule, the hotter the temperatures and the more water an esperanza container plant receives, the more fertilizer it will need.
Pruning an Esperanza Bush
Esperanza bushes are fast-growing plants. Therefore, they need to be pruned yearly to control their size and give them shape. Pruning is best performed after the plant is finished flowering. If you want the shrub to reach its maximum height of about 6 feet, trim the tips in the spring.
As evergreens, esperanza bushes keep their leaves year round. During particularly frigid winters, however, the entire plant may die back, even though the roots are hardy in its native range. If this occurs, cut back the entire plant.
Deadheading, or removing spent flowers, can help prolong the bloom time of an esperanza plant.
Since beginning her career as a professional journalist in 2007, Nathalie Alonso has covered a myriad of topics, including arts, culture and travel, for newspapers and magazines in New York City. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Columbia University and lives in Queens with her two cats.