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?


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

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


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?


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.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Tecoma stans

Tecoma stans

Tecoma stans

Tecoma stans





More Non-Natives Questions

Blueberries and non-native squash in Fort Worth
April 15, 2010 - Blueberries in North Central Texas-Fort Worth In sun or shade? Got only male blossoms on my squash last year why?
view the full question and answer

Division of non-native Lamb's Ear plant in Austin
May 17, 2010 - I have a lambs' ear plant that has gone wild, and I would like to divide and transplant part of the plant. Advice? Live in Austin, TX. 78757
view the full question and answer

Identity of mint impersonator in California
May 20, 2012 - Is there such a thing as a mint "impersonator"? There are random 'sprigs' of purple-stemmed, bright green leaf plants in my front yard. We just moved in to the house and I don't want to assume ...
view the full question and answer

Pruning of non-native New Dawn rose in Fairfield CT
May 13, 2009 - Hi! Can you help me with blind shoots on a climbing rose, New Dawn? The sun is planted in the south side of the house and gets plenty of light. I have only lightly fertilized it twice a year last yea...
view the full question and answer

Ridding property of Dichelostemma Firecracker Plant from Cleburne TX
April 11, 2012 - How do we get rid of Dichelostemma-Firecracker plant? It has invaded our yard & we hate it! How do we kill it?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center