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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - September 20, 2010

From: Santa Monica, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives, Transplants, Shrubs
Title: Tecoma stans problems in Santa Monica CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I just purchased a mature 6ft tall potted Tecoma Stance Vine (Honeysuckle), It is placed in an area where it gets at least 3 to 4 hours morning/early afternoon sun and then a shaded sun for the rest of the day. I watered it once to the point where water streamed out of the planter and now it is melting and the blooms are looking brownish. I'm worried I will lose it. Please tell me it will recover without any more watering for a while.

ANSWER:

We hope you mean Tecoma stans (Yellow bells). This is not a member of the Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle) family, but of the Bignoniaceae, or trumpet creeper family. It also isn't really a vine, but a deciduous shrub. According to the USDA Plant Profile, it does not even grow in California, although obviously it can be purchased and attempted there. Your area in Los Angeles County is apparently in USDA Hardiness Zones 9b to 10b, and since Yellow Bells is hardy from Zones  7-11, the temperature should not be an issue.

We can, however, see several areas where it would be questionable if this plant can do well in your garden. From our Native Plant Database on this shrub:

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Well drained, rocky, limestone, sand, and loam soils
Conditions Comments: North American native varieties of this species can survive winters within their natural range but may die to the ground during especially harsh winters even there. Varieties sold in nurseries may be from tropical stock and not do so well in US cold. Yellow Bells is drought tolerant and Southwestern varieties are adapted to monsoon rains with dry spells between. They may flower better if such conditions are emulated in planned landscapes, so allow ground to dry out between waterings. It is tolerant of confinement if containers are at least 12 inches in diameter and thus makes a good potted specimen."

Note especially the mention that "varieties sold in nuseries may be from tropical stock and not do well in US..." It is a desert plant, and probably is not reacting well to the no doubt excellent potting soil you have it in. Note, too, that it needs a pot of at least 12 inches diameter to do well. Most important of these include sun exposure and drainage. We consider "sun" to be 6 hours or more of sun a day, and "part shade" 2 to 6 hours of sun a day. It doesn't sound like it is in a position where it is getting all the sun it needs. And good drainage is imperative; this is not a plant that can tolerate water standing on its roots.

Will the plant recover? Well, first, don't water again until the soil feels dry, and don't overdo it then. Move it, if possible, to a place where it gets more sun. The biggest attraction of this plant is the yellow bell blossom, and no blooming plant does as well in shade as in sun. Don't fertilize, generally speaking native plants don't need fertilizing anyway, and you should never fertilize a plant under stress, as this one obviously is. Since it is deciduous, it is going to die back at some point anyway; at that point you can trim the branches down and cut down the water even more. Keep it in sun, and it should come back out in the Spring. And the next time you want to transplant a woody plant, do it in the late Fall, when the plant is semi-dormant. Your whole problem may be transplant shock.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Tecoma stans


Tecoma stans


Tecoma stans

 

 

 

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Mexican feathergrass from Pflugerville, TX
January 23, 2013 - How deep are the roots of Nassella tenuissima? I'm looking for something that could possibly discourage my neighbors' bermuda grass from encroaching into my native plantings.
view the full question and answer

Cross pollination of orange and crapemyrtle
November 05, 2007 - I have a crapemyrtle tree growing 3 feet from a navel orange tree. This summer a shoot grew from the ground 5 inches from the orange tree. The shoot looks just like the orange tree but the leaves were...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Cleyera and Red-tip photinia
June 01, 2008 - I planted a row of Cleyera in a bed that receives sunlight for about 3 hours during the middle of the day. My problem is that a number of the plants are dying. It begins with the leaves on one small...
view the full question and answer

Invasive non-native mulberry and groundcover in Jacksonville FL
October 02, 2011 - Northeast Florida (Jacksonville) inland. My mulberry tree provides dense shade in the summer and filtered light the other seasons, leaving sand in its growing area. What fast growing ground cover woul...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native weeping willow
September 20, 2008 - My weeping willow has black holish cracks in it. It is a yearling. Any suggestions? ...
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center