Pruning esperanza yellow bells

Pruning Esperanza Plants – How To Prune An Esperanza Plant

Esperanza is a flowering shrub that produces bright yellow flowers all summer long and sometimes beyond. It is relatively low maintenance, but some strategic cutting back really helps it to keep blooming fully and steadily. Keep reading to learn more esperanza pruning information, including how and when to prune esperanza plants.

Esperanza Pruning Information

Should I prune my esperanza? Yes, but not too much. Esperanza, also frequently called Yellow Bells and Yellow Elder, is a remarkably low maintenance plant. It performs well even in very poor soils and has excellent heat and drought tolerance.

It needs full sun in order to bloom to its fullest potential and to maintain

a compact shape. It will still grow in partial shade, but it will form a long, gangling appearance that not even pruning will be able to fix.

Pruning esperanza plants should be done only to encourage new growth. The shrubs should naturally form a bushy shape.

How to Prune an Esperanza Bush

The main time for pruning esperanza plants is late winter, after all blooming has stopped. Esperanzas are not frost hardy, and they will die back if temperatures drop below freezing. The roots are generally reliably hardy down to zone 8, however.

If your esperanza plant suffers frost damage, cut it back to the ground and mulch heavily over the roots. It ought to come back with new growth in the spring.

If your winters are frost free, wait until mid-winter to cut back the branches. This will encourage new growth and flowering in the spring.

Esperanza flowers appear on new spring growth, so be careful not to prune in the spring when flower buds are forming. Some deadheading during the summer will also encourage new blooming. Remove stems that are covered in spent blooms to make way for new growth and new flowers.

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Thursday – December 10, 2009

From: Brady, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Pruning, Seasonal Tasks, Shrubs
Title: Freeze damage to esperanza in pot from Brady TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


My esperanza, currently in a container, has suffered some freeze damage. I have prepared a planting spot for it and am not sure whether to plant now, trim it back if I do plant it, etc. I would appreciate your recommendations for this whole process.


We have three questions on the docket regarding what to do after the sudden hard freeze that occurred recently in Central Texas; in fact, we are still dipping below freezing at night frequently. With your permission, we will address all three first as a group, and then, for each question, the individual plants involved. One thing that applies in every case is, don’t fertilize. Plants should be fertilized in the Spring, when you want to encourage new shoots to appear. The last thing you want to do is encourage new shoots now that will put more stress on already-stressed roots and probably just get frozen back again.

You may already know what happened; actively growing plants still have water in their upper structure, particularly the leaves. A sudden hard freeze causes that water to expand, bursting cell walls in the leaves, and they quickly turn dark and look pathetic. What made this freeze worse was that it was earlier than we ordinarily expect these conditions in this part of Texas, very sudden, temperatures went down very far, and remained below freezing for several hours. A gradual decrease in temperature over a period of time increases the ability of plants or plant parts to withstand cold temperatures. A sudden decrease in temperature in late fall or early winter usually results in more damage than the same low temperature in January or February.

Here is information from our Native Plant Database on Tecoma stans (yellow trumpetbush):
“Conditions Comments: Yellow bells produces great, yellow, attention-grabbing blossoms. The plant will not tolerate extreme cold well, but cutting it back to the ground in winter can help maintain yellow bells in your spring and summer landscape.”

Your real problem is that your plant was still in the (probably) plastic pot from the nursery. As you can see from the information above, the leaves and upper stems ordinarily die back, anyway, and then resprout when warm weather returns in the Spring. However, the damage to the roots may be a more severe problem. A plant in a pot has only the very small insulation of the potting soil and the thin piece of plastic around the roots; a plant in the ground has the warmth of the earth all around it. Ordinarily, our advice on a plant that experienced die-back from freezing would be to wait a few days, as more damage may become evident, and then prune. However, in your case, we really don’t know if your plant is going to survive. The best advice we can give is, on the first warmer day, get those roots into the ground. Hopefully, the hole you have prepared has some compost mixed in which will help with good drainage that the esperanza needs but also, as the compost decomposes it will produce some more warmth to help those roots. Get some water into the hole, but don’t let the water stand on the surface. Then, mulch the root area with a good quality shredded hardwood mulch. Go ahead and prune to the ground as mentioned in our database, and hope for the best. You have done all you can, and since the esperanza is a pretty tough plant, we think it will sprout in the Spring and live again.

From our Native Plant Database:

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Tecoma X ‘Orange Jubilee’

Tecoma stans

Many people call this plant Esperanza, but others use the common name yellow bells, since the flowers are long, tubular, and bell-shaped. The common species (Tecoma stans) has large, yellow flowers, but this cultivar, as its name implies, has orange flowers.

The leaves of ‘Orange Jubilee’ are a deep, glossy green, with a glossy brightness to them. You may see this plant listed as a semi-evergreen, but it will usually be deciduous here in Central Texas. In cold winters, ‘Orange Jubilee’ will freeze to the ground, but unless it’s unusually cold, this root hardy shrub will come back once spring temperatures warm-up sufficiently, so you’ll need to prune out all the dead stems. Even if ‘Orange Jubilee’ doesn’t freeze to the ground, you might consider pruning it to about 3 inches from the ground anyway, since that will make the plant fuller, and bushier.

This fast-growing shrub loves the full, hot sun, so it would do very well in a southwestern exposure, where you might have too much reflected heat for anything else to survive.

‘Orange Jubilee’ can tolerate virtually any soil type, and will grow very quickly to over 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide. This gorgeous shrub thrives on very low water, so if you’re looking for a virtually care-free plant, ‘Orange Jubilee’ would be a great choice.



  • Drought Resistant Plants
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  • Flowering
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  • Perennials
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  • Water Conservation

The Bells of Fire Tecoma from the Southern Living Plant Collection is probably unlike any Tecoma you have ever planted! This variety has incredible blooming potential and is sure to be one of the most prolific bloomers in your landscape. True to its name, the Bells of Fire Tecoma produces bright red-orange trumpet-shaped flowers from Spring until the first frost in Fall! In addition, the tubular, colorful flowers are perfect for hummingbird lovers, and will attract any curious hummingbirds in the area.

For limited frost environments, the Tecoma is a semi-evergreen shrub, reaching 5-6 ft H x 5 ft W. Other zones will see the Bells of Fire as a deciduous perennial, returning each year.

The Bells of Fire is naturally compact, meaning that pruning is unnecessary. Therefore, fans of carefree gardening will enjoy its low-maintenance nature. Use it as a foundation, hedge, garden accent, or in a mass planting.

This gorgeous shrub isn’t all looks though. Once established, it is notably drought and heat tolerant in the landscape!

Dead-heading will encourage further blooming but is not required.

Bells of Fire Tecoma Care

Plant in USDA Zones 8-11.

Full Sun (6+ hours) is important to ensure that you are getting the maximum amount of blooms possible.

Plant in well-draining soil for best results. However, the Bells of Fire Tecoma tolerates most native soil types as well.

Water regularly until well-established. This will improve its ability to survive in the long-term, as it will allow roots to penetrate deeper. Afterward, supplemental watering may be required in times of dry weather.

Fertilize with a granular fertilizer higher in Phosphorus and Potassium (such as 8-10-10) in early spring and summer. This will encourage bloom production. Use a balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) in early fall to promote growth to prepare it for the next growing season.

Bells of Fire Tecoma Spacing

To create a seamless border or hedge plant this Tecoma 2-3 feet apart. If individual shrub plantings are desired, space your plantings 5+ feet apart.

Bells of Fire Tecoma Current Approximate Shipping Size

2.5 Quart – 6-8″+ H x 6-8″ W

Want this plant with yellow blooms? Check out the Lydia Tecoma

Should I Prune Esperanza Plants?

Esperanza (Tecoma stans, also known as yellow bells, yellow trumpetbush or yellow elder) is a perennial, semi-tropical shrub to small tree that is native to the hot, dry regions of the Americas. In many areas, annual freezes keep the plant small. But esperanza can grow very large without freezes, and may need to be pruned or trained.


Esperanzas can be trained into tree form in areas where they do not freeze to the ground each year. It is not necessary, but may allow light onto surrounding plants. They may also be pruned and trained onto a trellis to keep them from growing wide, though they are not vines: they will not cling to the trellis, so they must be tied down.

Promoting Flowering

Once esperanza blooms fade, pruning them from the bush will help promote more flowering. Additionally, removing any of the long seed pods that the plant forms will not only increase blooming, but will also reduce the chances of esperanza escaping into the wild in regions of the United States where it is considered invasive. The plant will still bloom continuously even if it is not pruned in this manner, but each flush of blooms is more profuse.


According to Mary Rose Duffield in “Plants for Dry Climates,” pruning esperanzas heavily in the spring or later in the growing season to keep its size in control will reduce its blooming throughout the season. Esperanzas get very large in regions with very long growing seasons coupled with winters where they do not freeze back each year, so plant them to accommodate to their maximum size.


In areas where esperanza freezes to the ground each year, pruning the new growth tips at the first flush will encourage branching without sacrificing very many blooms. In these areas, esperanza will only grow to half its tropical size, which can be as large as 10 to 25 feet tall and wide.

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