En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - September 01, 2009

From: Odessa, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Watering, Shrubs
Title: Esperanza failing to bloom in Odessa TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have 3 Esperanza plants that have not bloomed this spring/summer. I live in Odessa, TX. We had about 5 inches of rain in July in one week (very unusual), but they have not bloomed-before or after. Sprinkler system runs 3 nights a week, but does not get much on the area where planted. What do I need to do?

ANSWER:

We know we are sounding like a broken record, but the last two years of Texas weather have been a great trial to native plants. Tecoma stans (yellow trumpetbush) is native to Texas. a drought-resistant desert plant, and usually quite dependable, so we're at a loss, too. The range of this plant in Texas from USDA Plant profile does not appear to include the Odessa area. However, we don't feel it is far enough out of range to explain the problem. Like all desert plants, Esperanza needs very good drainage, so we are looking at the unusual rain (and why did you get a week of rain and Austin hasn't gotten a teacup-full?) and frequent watering as a possibility.

From our Native Plant Database, here are the growing conditions for Esperanza:

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Rocky soils. Limestone-based, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam
Conditions Comments: Yellow bells produces great, yellow, attention-grabbing blossoms. The plant will not tolerate extreme cold well, but cutting it back to the ground in winter can help maintain yellow bells in your spring and summer landscape. Yellow bells is drought tolerant and makes a good potted specimen.

The soil descriptions certainly sound right for Odessa, and we don't believe you have had any cold weather extreme enough to affect the blooming.  We are going to make several suggestions, none of which will hurt the plant, and hopefully one or more will get your plant blooming again. First of all, try to improve the drainage around the plant. If the drainage is not good, that rain in July could have done some damage by causing water to stand on the roots. Try working some compost or other organic material into the soil around the plant, and mulch the roots to keep them cooler. See if you can find a way not to water the area around the plant 3 times a week, once a week is sufficient for a desert plant. Next, don't fertilize. The beauty of native plants is that they seldom need fertilizer because they are already adapted to the environment. Often, gardeners will apply extra fertilizer to a plant under stress, hoping to help it, but you should never fertilize any plant under stress. The failure to bloom is definitely a sign of distress. If you apply lawn fertilizer, high in nitrogen, to all your area, that will cause the leaves to grow vigorously and be green, but discourage blooming. Since your plant was not blooming before all that rain in July, we think this could be the most likely culprit. Tecoma stans ordinarily blooms from April to November, so it's possible you will not have any blooms this season.

We would suggest that you correct the drainage, watering and fertilizing as indicated, and then follow the suggestion in the Growing Conditions and cut the plant back to the ground this winter. Hopefully, that will rejuvenate it and it will go back to providing those gorgeous yellow blooms for months. 

 

From the Image Gallery


Yellow bells
Tecoma stans

Yellow bells
Tecoma stans



Yellow bells
Tecoma stans

More Watering Questions

Watering needs for a new landscape
October 11, 2008 - How much and how frequently are you supposed to water after implementing a new landscape? For example, perennials and succulents that are drought tolerant.
view the full question and answer

Recently planted live oak tree in Boerne, TX
February 07, 2009 - My brother planted a live oak in August. It was from a nursery and had a root ball. It looks dead but I keep watering it. The trunk is about 6 inches around. The leaves died but when the winds came th...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting a Texas redbud sapling
July 27, 2008 - I've just discovered a Texas red bud sapling (baby tree)that decided to grow next to our fire pit. Although there's no reason for us to sit around the campfire in 100 degree weather, I would like to...
view the full question and answer

Drought affecting native trees from The Woodlands
August 18, 2011 - I've been trying to grow native trees in my yard for the past 3 years and I'm starting to question whether the amount of time required to spend watering them during the long hot season in Texas is r...
view the full question and answer

Fungus gnats on house plant in Edwardsville IL
July 16, 2009 - I recently purchased a Trailing Perennial Plant, and I am seeing a lot of gnats flying in my house. Could this be the problem?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center