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Sunday - March 28, 2010

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Shrubs
Title: Esperanza failing to bud out in Georgetown TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I planted esperanza shrubs last summer and they did well. I did not prune them back in the winter. They are not showing any signs of life (No greenery) Will the plants start to form leaves and flowers or are they gone?

ANSWER:

From our Native Plant Database on Tecoma stans (yellow trumpetbush), we got this information which might explain what has happend to your plant:

"Plants native to the southwestern US and adjacent Mexico are Tecoma stans var. angustata, which is shorter, more drought-tolerant, and more cold-tolerant than some of the tropical varieties sold in nurseries."

Since nurseries often do not put the scientific names of their plants on the labels, you have no way of knowing if you purchased the more tropical version of the plant, which could have been killed by our very unusual and early cold snaps. However, all the information we could find on the Tecoma stans var. angustata, mentioned above was virtually identical to that of the Tecoma stans (yellow trumpetbush). Yellow Bells is hardy from USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to10; Georgetown, in Zone 8b, should have been safe even with the freezes. The only other indication of what might be the problem is that you planted the bushes in the summer. Woody plants should usually be transplanted in the Fall or late Winter when they are still semi-dormant. How did your plant look when it was newly planted? If it showed signs of wilting or dying leaves, it may be suffering from transplant shock.

We suspect that, indeed, you have purchased a tropical version of this plant and it may not have survived the cold. However, do the thumbnail test on the plant; scrape a thin layer of bark off the higher branches. If there is no green layer beneath that bark, work your way down. If you find that green layer, there is still some life in the plant, and it will possibly leaf out later. Do not fertilize-it is a plant in stress, and you should never fertilize a stressed plant. However, keep it watered and give it some time. If you find no green up high, but do find some down low, we would recommend trimming back the dead material. Since it begins to bloom in April and blooms until November, if it shows no signs of coming up from the roots in the next couple of weeks, we would say it is a lost cause.

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