Esperanza is a multi-stemmed plant that can be grown as a perennial in warmer regions, or as an annual elsewhere. If grown as a perennial, and during mild winters, the esperanza is an evergreen plant.
Esperanza is very popular as a garden bush in Texas, and it has many common names such as yellow trumpet, yellow bells, and yellow elder.
There are both cultivars and hybrids available. Although most esperanza flowers are yellow, there are some varieties that have orange or red tubular blooms.
This fast-growing perennial, grown as an ornamental shrub, produces a long-lasting show of clusters of brightly colored blooms during the summer that will continue until the frosts arrive.
The esperanza name comes from the Spanish translation, which is something akin to “hope”. This plant has beautiful flowers and is tough, with a low-maintenance requirement.
|Scientific name||Tecoma stans|
|Common names||Esperanza, yellow elder, yellow trumpet, trumpet flower, yellow bells|
|Height||Up to 6 feet (1.83 m)|
|Width||Up to 6 feet (1.83 m)|
|USDA Plant Hardiness Zone||Zones 9 to 11 (sometimes hardy to zone 8)|
|Native to||Parts of Texas, Arizona, Mexico, Argentina, and Florida|
|Blooming season||Late Spring and Summer|
|Flower colors||Usually yellow, can be orange and red|
|Plant specific features||Attracts birds, bees, and butterflies. Flowers slightly fragrant. Nectar is toxic.|
How to Plant and Grow an Esperanza Bush
You’ll be pleased to know that the esperanza is an easy-to-grow, showy shrub. It is tough, has low watering and soil requirements, and is generally very low maintenance.
Where to Plant
In warmer climates, esperanza will grow well as an evergreen perennial in a mixed border. If your climate is too cold, then consider growing this shrub in a container.
You can move it indoors for the winter months and continue to enjoy its beautiful, bell-shaped flowers. Alternatively, you can treat esperanza as an annual and replace it each year.
In cooler locations, but in areas that are within its zones of hardiness, esperanza will lose its dark, glossy leaves during the winter. Its roots will not die, (especially if protected with an organic mulch) and it will regrow foliage as soon as the temperatures warm up again.
To obtain the best blooms, you should find the sunniest position available in which to plant the esperanza. Although esperanza can be planted in semi-shade, you will get fewer flowers. And, if planted in full shade, you will find that you don’t have any flowers at all!
One of the main considerations when choosing a planting site for esperanza is space. Unless you are planting a dwarf variety, an esperanza can grow both tall and wide.
You need to allow plenty of space next to the esperanza to ensure it doesn’t suffocate neighboring plants. And if planting multiple esperanza shrubs, allow at least 5 feet (1.52 m) between them.
When to Plant
The ideal time to plant a bare root Tecoma stans or esperanza, is whilst the plant is dormant. The late winter is ideal.
If you are planting a container or nursery-grown plant, then the best time to plant the esperanza is in the Spring, once the danger of frosts has passed.
Esperanza Shrubs Care and Maintenance
Esperanza is a plant that prefers soil that is neutral or on the alkaline side of neutral, but this is an adaptable shrub that is tolerant of many soil types. It will grow in sandy, loamy, rocky or limestone soil.
But, the soil must drain well. Never let an esperanza sit in soggy soil; this will lead to root rot and to the end of your esperanza.
When planting the esperanza if you find that the soil isn’t sufficiently free draining, add a soil conditioner such as organic compost and some gravel.
Just before the onset of winter, if you apply an organic mulch around the soil, this can give the esperanza roots some protection from the cold. But, always make sure that the mulch doesn’t come into contact with the stem of the plant, or it can lead to rot.
A newly planted esperanza needs to be regularly watered. This will encourage it to establish a good network of roots. Once it has a robust root system, an esperanza is fairly drought tolerant.
When watering, it is more efficient to water thoroughly and soak the soil. Then allow it to dry out completely before you water it again.
Watering in this way benefits the plant and encourages its roots to go deeper into the soil. This will enable the esperanza to cope with drier conditions when water is scarce.
Never give an esperanza nitrogen! A small amount of bone meal or other phosphorous-rich fertilizer, however, will boost the minerals and enrich the soil around the plant’s roots.
This will encourage the best flower production.
Avoid fertilizing in the late summer or autumn. This will encourage new growth just before the onset of winter. The tender new shoots may not have time to toughen up sufficiently before the cold weather arrives.
For best results, use a slow-release fertilizer that you mix with the soil and compost at the time of planting. You can then fertilize two or three times during the growing season to encourage new growth and flowers.
When fertilizing esperanza, remember that this is a shrub that doesn’t need or want a lot of feeding. Too much fertilizer can harm or even kill the shrub; too little will probably not adversely affect it too much.
Esperanza is native to warm, sunny regions – it loves sunlight. Plant the esperanza in the sunniest position available, and it will reward you with a spectacular and long-lasting floral display.
Although you can plant it in a semi-shade, the esperanza needs to have plenty of sunlight to produce the best flowers.
Pruning and Repotting
Esperanza grows fairly fast. You will need to keep it in check to avoid it becoming too tall and leggy as a garden plant.
Keep the pruning of the esperanza light. Remove any dead or damaged branches as soon as you see them.
This discourages fungal infection and damage by pests and insects. If you prune the shrub too much in the Spring, you will lose flowers during the summer.
Cutting your plant back after it has finished flowering will stop it being damaged by the weight of winter snow falling onto, it and possibly breaking its branches.
Although not technically pruning, it is a good idea to dead-head the spent blooms as soon as the flowers have faded. Removing the finished flowers on a weekly basis will encourage the plant to keep on flowering.
If you allow it to set seed, then the flowering season will be curtailed. Always remove seed pods if they have formed as soon as you see them, to extend the flowering season.
You can grow esperanza from seed; collect the seeds in the fall, once the pods have matured and are no longer green. Plant the seeds in soil which should be rich and kept moist. Seeds take up to 3 weeks to germinate.
Allow the seedlings to grow on in pots, and overwinter in a sheltered protected site, away from the cold.
In the Spring, you can transplant the shrub seedlings outdoors. Avoid overwatering the seedlings, particularly during the winter. Esperanza raised from seed should flower within two years.
Alternatively, you can propagate esperanza from softwood cuttings. Cut lengths of the current season’s growth during the Spring.
The cuttings should be around 4 inches (10.16 cm) in length. Remove the lower leaves, and just keep one pair of leaves.
Using hormone rooting powder will speed up the rooting process. Dip the base of the cutting into the rooting powder, and insert it into a pot that contains a mixture of sand and potting compost.
Keep the cuttings moist, and allow them to develop a small root system before disturbing them. Protect the esperanza cuttings from the cold for the first winter and transplant in the Spring.
Pests and diseases
Deer will only forage esperanza when little else if available to them, so this shrub is considered to be moderately deer-resistant.
If you plant an esperanza in soil that doesn’t drain well, its roots will stand in soggy soil. This will inevitably kill the plant since its roots will not be able to absorb the excess humidity.
There are no serious threats to esperanza from pests or disease. A potted plant kept inside is more prone to damage by aphids and spider mites. Occasionally, scale insects can cause cosmetic damage to the foliage of the esperanza.
Temperature and Humidity
Esperanza hails from hot regions. It loves the sun and will survive extreme heat. Not only will it tolerate extreme heat, but it will continue to flower too.
Other Uses for Esperanza
In the past, esperanza was used for medicinal purposes, and in Mexico, its roots were brewed into a beer type of beverage.
Anecdotally, the wood from the esperanza was collected by natives for making bows.
Types of Esperanza You Can Grow
Several cultivars and hybrids have been developed, and this has widened the range of colors available. Originally, esperanza flowers were only yellow, but now it is possible to have esperanza flowers in yellow, orange, and different shades of red.
Tecoma stans “Nana” is a dwarf cultivar that produces masses of yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers which contrast beautifully with the deep green leaves of the esperanza.
This compact shrub won’t grow taller than 4 feet (1.22 m). “Nana” is a good choice for smaller planting spaces.
Another compact variety of esperanza, perfect if space is limited, is the dwarf cultivar “Chicklet” Orange. This variety has the same showy bell-shaped flowers but in bright orange.
This is a great choice for a container plant if you are not in a sufficiently warm zone to grow esperanza as a perennial.
An advantage of a number of the cultivars, particularly the dwarf varieties, is that they do not need dead-heading in order to bloom continuously throughout the Summer.
Esperanza is a beautiful plant and will attract bees and other wildlife to the garden. However, the nectar and pollen produced by the esperanza are toxic, so don’t make honey if you have this shrub in your garden!
Similarly, due to its potential toxicity, keep domestic animals and small children away from esperanza.
*image by shinylion/depositphotos