En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Esperanza failing to bloom in Odessa TX

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 Compost and Mulch Questions

Shelf life of hawthorn leaves in Florissant, MO
April 30, 2009 - I have a bag of hawthorn leaves that were harvested in 2007. Do you know if they're still effective? How long is the shelf life of hawthorn leaves? Thank you for your assistance.
view the full question and answer

Smaller trees for limited space in yard in Austin
March 29, 2011 - Follow up to "I have a choice of three shade trees from the city of Austin. They are Live Oak, Elm, Cedar. Although I am happy to have a free tree, I think the choices are not the best for my home. I...
view the full question and answer

Overwatering Texas Mountain Laurel from Rosanky TX
June 06, 2012 - I just read your article in the Statesman about over watering Mt.Laurel. Now I know why my lovely 15 year old tree is dying. We put in new grass this winter and I watered too much. Is there any hop...
view the full question and answer

Coreopsis failing to bloom in Sonora CA
August 04, 2009 - My Coreopsis buds form and then die. Very few open. The plants are two and three years old, in a clay type soil. Is it possible they're getting too much water, and that is whats making the buds die ...
view the full question and answer

Existing live oak taking over in Monahans TX
March 22, 2011 - I have just purchased a home with a huge Live Oak tree in the front yard. The previous owners have over the years allowed the sucker roots to grow unchecked. The tree is shading most of the lawn (di...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center