En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
2 ratings

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.


Tecoma stans

Tecoma stans

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Non-native daylilies and pachysandra in same area from New York City
April 07, 2012 - Will daylilies and pachysandra thrive if planted in the same bed, or will they harm each other?
view the full question and answer

Trees for Privacy Screening in Central Texas
July 11, 2016 - I live in Cedar Park, Texas and have a neighbor who likes to have parties. I need a evergreen tree/hedge that will provide privacy and sound barrier. We have some wax myrtles but they don't work. We ...
view the full question and answer

Pruning tips for Texas Mountain Laurel.
October 09, 2011 - Towards the end of May, I planted some Mountain Laurel seeds in pots. They are about six inches high now and starting to branch out. Do I need to trim off the leaves on the main stem below the branche...
view the full question and answer

Declining wax myrtles in Katy, TX
August 24, 2009 - My wax myrtle bushes were thick and green except for a few on the NE side 6 months ago when we bought the house. Now they are thin, leggy, and dropping leaves like crazy. They seem to be dying one bra...
view the full question and answer

Nutrient imbalance in Tecoma stans
October 18, 2007 - I have two Tecoma stans on the north-east side of my yard. They have grown very tall (5') but have not bloomed all summer. Last summer they bloomed profusely. Any idea what the problem might be?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center