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In the Garden

By BY CELESTE CASH - Second Nature Seed & Garden Texas A&M Horticulturist
June 6, 2012 at 1:06 a.m.

That is not by any means an overstatement. The yellowbells (Tecoma stans) are one of the most outstanding plants in the garden. It is also referred to as as hardy yellow trumpet and sometimes trumpet alder. The plant has a soft textured, dark-colored green foliage contrasted by bright yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers that grow in huge masses. The flowers are present from spring until late fall.

Esperanza is a true perennial and will die back to the ground in an average winter here in Bay City. But, even in the several colder than average winters we have experienced in the last few years, the plant will begin to regenerate near the base in late spring. Within a few weeks, the plant has grown a couple of feet and is beginning to form flower buds. The esperanza grows well in a container as well as in the garden.

Placement is the key factor in being successful with esperanza. The plant thrives in hot, sunny locations. This doesn't mean that a few hours of afternoon shade won't be tolerated. Although the plant grows in a wide variety of soils, they prefer a fertile, well-drained soil. Adding organic matter and composting the area will improve the overall health of the soil. Another thing to consider when choosing where to plant an esperanza is understanding they will grow to be a large plant. I have seen them in far west Texas grow to almost 10 feet tall. I have seen them in our part of the world get to 7 feet without a lot of trouble in one growing season.

Caring for esperanza is a relatively easy task. Once established, they are a very low-maintenance plant and require minimal care. They need water once or twice a week depending on the weather. The soil should be allowed to dry out somewhat between waterings. Container plants will require at least one more watering per week. A water soluble fertilizer should be applied once every two weeks to plants in containers throughout the growing season. A slow release fertilizer should be used every six weeks on plants that are established in your flower gardens.

Removing the seedpods will promote a continuous bloom. Some slight additional pruning during the growing season may be necessary to remove any old, deformed or leggy branches. Occasional pruning may be required to manage both the size and the appearance of the plant.

Garden Tips: If you haven't planted peas or okra yet, give it a try. Both usually do really well in our summer temperatures. Our first planting of peas will be ready to harvest in about two weeks. I can't wait. Fresh peas are one of my favorite vegetables



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