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Wednesday - June 06, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Failure to bloom of Esperanza from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have an Esperanza plant. I've had this plant for over 5 years. Its in a large pot. The plant has NEVER bloomed. I fertilize maybe once a month and dont seem to be over watering, only when I notice the dirt is really dried up. Im just baffled. Not only that it hasnt gotten any bigger. So, my question is: Is it safe to plant Esperanza in the ground now? Im wondering if thats what it needs? I dont want to make a bad situation worse though. Thank you in advance.


First: Stop fertilizing - NOW. Native plants rarely need to be fertilized, and Tecoma stans (Yellow bells) particularly dislikes it.The fertilizer, especially if it is high nitrogen in content, will inspire a lot of leaves (as when it is used on grass) and few or no blooms.

Second, we are pretty sure your plant has outgrown its pot. There is even the possibility that it was pot-bound when you purchased it. We always recommend that any time a woody plant is purchased from a nursery in a pot, that the customer insist that the tree or shrub be pulled out of the pot to determine if the roots are circling around because they have been in the pot too long and cannot get their roots out into dirt.

We are somewhat torn about what to say about replanting it now. Ordinarily, we recommend that woody plants be planted or transplanted in cooler weather, like November to January, when they are dormant and less likely to experience transplant shock. In this case, we would recommend that you wait until November to plant it, and when you do so, be sure and add a lot of good quality compost, as well as possibly some decomposed granite or even sand to the native soil. Like all desert plants, this one demands good drainage. You probably put your plant into potting soil, from which it also gets fertilizer, but which does drain fairly well. However, with all those roots in there, the soil may be virtually gone.

In the meantime, so you at least feel like you are doing something, you might trim off some of the excess foliage, even moving the plant into part shade. Be sure and follow this plant link Tecoma stans (Yellow bells) to our webpage on the plant, and read all of its growing conditions, soil and water It needs, etc. You will note that it ordinarily blooms from April to October, so it's possible you will still get blooms on it this year, but we still think it should have its roots examined and pruned if necessary, and then go in the ground.


From the Image Gallery

Yellow bells
Tecoma stans

Yellow bells
Tecoma stans

Yellow bells
Tecoma stans

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