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Monday - June 30, 2008

From: Fredericksburg, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Planting, Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Non-blooming Tecoma stans in Fredericksburg, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have an esperanza plant purchased last year from Walmart and planted outside before winter. It flowered excellently last year. Just before winter we cut it back to about a foot. So far this summer it has grown over six feet high on some of the stalks and has very green leaves, too. There have been no flowers or pods this year and lots of the leaves have big holes (insect?) in them. There is also a yellow or brownish pollen-like substance on several leaves that won't come off when we water it. Is this bad?

ANSWER:

Tecoma stans (yellow trumpetbush) is a native to West Texas and should be able to grow very well in Fredericksburg. The first question that comes to mind is-what is the sun exposure on this plant? It needs full sun 6-8 hours to bloom well. If it was in the sun last year, and a nearby shrub or tree has grown up taller, it may now be in too much shade to bloom. The second question is-have you been fertilizing it, and, if so, with a lot of nitrogen? Nitrogen-heavy fertilizers (such as you would use on your lawn) will result in lots of lush green foliage and few or no flowers. It also needs well drained soil, and cannot tolerate wet feet. In fact, it can go with just natural rainwater, except in very dry periods. The pollen-like substance sounds like some sort of mildew, which, again, could be caused by a lack of sunshine and maybe too much water, especially if it is receiving overhead water, as with a sprinkler system. The holes in the leaves may be some sort of chewing insect, but not a particular threat to the health of the plant. This, however, often happens in the case of a stressed plant. The Gold Star selection of Tecoma stans, which is probably what you have, is often sold in a two to three-gallon pot as a tropical. If this is how you bought it, it may still be trying to establish its roots, since the rush to market often causes some growers to force blooms before the roots are fully developed.

This Texas A&M Cooperative Extension website Esperanza (Yellow Bells) can give you more information. Since we still do not know exactly what is causing your problems, we would suggest that you treat it as a plant with transplant shock. Of course, if it is not in full sun, you will need to wait until cooler weather, trim it back and transplant it to a sunny spot. But, right now, try trimming back 1/2 to 1/3 of the plant, and water it slowly and deeply about once a week. Remember to check the drainage in your plant's area. If water stands on the surface, the soil is not draining, and that will need to be addressed also. If it begins to put on new growth and show some signs of reviving, fertilize it lightly with higher phosphorus content than normal, for blooming. It is a very fast-growing shrub, but is tender, so cutting it back and protecting it in colder winter weather is advisable.

 

 

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