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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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Saturday - July 07, 2012

From: Glendale, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pollinators, Wildlife Gardens, Shrubs
Title: Will hybrid Tecoma stans attract hummingbirds from Glendale AZ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We bought a bells of fire plant; would like to know if hummingbirds like them?

ANSWER:

Tecoma x 'Bells of Fire" is apparently the hybrid you purchased. Tecoma stans (Yellow bells) would be one plant of the hybrid Tecoma x capensis, the 'campensis' part referring to a member of the Bignoniaceae (trumpet vine) family not native to North America. In our research we found all kinds of explanations and origins of this plant, but since you already have it, we will try to just answer your basic question. Nurseries can and do give any kind of trade name to plants to make them more attractive for sales. These are common names and we search for the scientific names to help us better understand their sources.

Since this plant, regardless of its parentage, is a member of the Trumpet Vine family, we believe that hummingbirds would definitely be attracted to it. See this article from the American Forest Service on Bird Pollination. It says that hummingbirds like red, yellow and orange, flowers open during the day and tubular flowers. If, as it seems, the 'Bells of Fire' has red or bright orange flowers that would seem to make them a perfect target for hummingbird feeding.

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