The Q&A Archives: Tacoma

Question: I can't get any information from my local extension service about
a tropical shrub named tacoma, except that a common name for it is
'Yellow Bells'.
Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: I think the plant in question is Tecoma stans, commonly called Esperanza or yellow bells. Common yellowbells (Tecoma stans var. stans) is a Central and South American tree that grows to 25 ft (7.6 m). It has bright yellow flowers and dense, lushly green foliage that is evergreen in tropical climates, but deciduous in chillier places. It is reliably hardy only down to 28?F (-2.2?C), though the roots may survive temperatures into the low twenties. Arizona yellow bells (T. stans var. angustata), which comes from the Chihuahuan Desert in Texas and New Mexico, is a 10 ft (3.1 m) deciduous shrub, which is hardy to 10?F (-12.2?C) and can be grown as a herbaceous perennial to Zone 7. It has relatively small flowers and lacy foliage made up of narrow, deeply toothed leaves. 'Gold Star Esperanza' is intermediate between var. angustata and var. stans. It grows to 3-4 ft (0.9-1.2 m) as an annual and is marketed as a Zone 9 patio tub plant. Whereas other yellow elder varieties do not bloom until they are medium-sized shrubs, 'Gold Star Esperanza' begins flowering even as a liner and is therefore more readily marketable in the nursery trade. T. alata is a very similar Argentine native that is root-hardy to at least 6?F (-14.4? C). It looks like T. stans var. angustata, but has orange flowers. It is sold under the name 'Orange Jubilee'. 'Burnt Out' is a hybrid of T. alata and T. stans var. stans. It has burnt orange flowers and can be grown as a perennial in Zone 7. 'Orange Bells' (Tecoma x smithii) is a cross of T. arequipensis and T. stans. T. chrysantha has larger flower clusters and more dramatically serrated leaf margins. T. gaudichaudii (a.k.a. T. castanifolia), which has naturalized in the Miami area and the Dry Tortugas, has similar flowers but simple leaves.

Tecoma will grow on a wide variety of soils, including sand and limerock. The plants can be cut to the ground for rejuvenation in the early spring or carefully sheared during the growing season to control shape and size and promote new flushes of flowers. This species needs full sun and likes well drained soil. Potted plants should be given minimal water when not in active growth.

Hardiness: USDA Zones 7 - 11. Freeze tolerance varies dramatically, with some forms able to survive temperatures down to around 10?F (-12.2? C) and others severely injured by only a few degrees of frost.

Hope this provides all the information you're looking for!

« Click to go to the homepage

» Ask a question of your own

Q&A Library Searching Tips

  • When singular and plural spellings differ, as in peony and peonies, try both.
  • Search terms are not case sensitive.

Today's site banner is by cocoajuno and is called "Here's looking at you."