Tecoma stans, commonly called yellow bells, is native to the West Indies, Florida, and Mexico to South America. It is a broadleaf evergreen shrub or small tree that grows from 10’ to 25’ tall and features a lengthy bloom of bright yellow tubular flowers. It is typically sold by nurseries in temperate regions as a container plant for patios in somewhat the same manner as Mandevilla and Bougainvillea. It features odd pinnate medium green leaves with ovate-oblong toothed leaflets (2-4” long). Trumpet-shaped bright yellow flowers (to 2” long) in axillary and terminal racemes bloom continuously from late spring to frost. Flowers are slightly fragrant. Flowers are followed by narrow bean-like capsules (to 8” long) that are filled with papery-winged seeds. Common names for Tecoma stans plants include trumpet bush, esperanza (Spanish for hope), yellow elder, yellow bells or yellow bignonia.
Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-11 where it is best grown in fertile, organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. In central and southern Florida and California, this may be planted as a specimen or massed in gardens and shrub borders or grown in containers.
Tecoma stans seeds germinate readily in nature in sandy soils. You can start seeds directly into the soil if you live in a climate with warm, dry conditions. Because Tecoma stans is a drought tolerant species, excessive moisture for germination is not required. Keep the planting area lightly watered until sprouting is visible.
- The seeds like moist, sandy, well-drained soil. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Put the soil in a pot. Water the mixture so that it is moist but not wet.
- Put the seeds on the soil.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil.
- Water the seeds.
- Place the pots in an area with warm temperatures in full sun or part shade. Seeds sometimes germinate within 4 to 6 weeks although some may take very much longer so please be patient.
- When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.