When summer arrives in San Antonio, esperanza shows off while many of our blooming plants are shutting down. Many plants just can’t handle the high temperatures we face June – August. However, today we are celebrating a plant that can. The sunshine-yellow blooms of the south Texas native, esperanza, or Tecoma stans, will see you throught the hottest days and right up to the first hard freeze. It’s no wonder that esperanza is a favorite choice in San Antonio year after year.

Nowadays there are multiple varieties of esperanza available. There is ‘Gold Star’ esperanza (which has earned its place on the list of Texas Superstar® plants), Orange Jubilee, Bells of Fire, and Sierra Apricot, just to name a few. While these varieties may vary in color and mature height, they all provide gorgeous trumpet shaped flowers in abundant clusters and they all attract pollinators.

Esperanza can easily brighten up your summer landscapes with flowers that seem inspired by the golden-yellow sun itself. You can find blooms in a range of hues resembling the sunrise to sunset and everything in between. Just look at the names listed above and you’ll get a pretty good idea what color flowers you are in for with each esperanza variety.

Let’s give you a little eye-candy and offer you the details for growing esperanza in your own landscapes and container gardens. We will mostly be focusing on the native, reliable, ‘Gold Star’ esperanza, but the care is basically the same for all varieties. Industry tip: Always double check cold tolerance for whichever variety you choose.

Apricot esperanza
Esperanza is a popular, native Texas perennial.
Esperanza comes in many different varieties.

3 Tips for Growing Esperanza in San Antonio

Follow these tips for success with esperanza in your landscapes. 

1. Full Sun. Esperanza not only offers you the colors of sunshine, they thrive in it! Once established, esperanza is very drought and heat tolerant; living in San Antonio, that is a must for most of our plants. A little afternoon shade is ok, but if you plant esperanza in too shady of an area, you’ll sacrifice the blooms.

2. Well Draining Soil. While esperanza can tolerate being planted in a variety of soils, they do not like their roots sitting in water. Well draining soil means that water should drain away in about 3-5 hours, a reasonable amount of time after irrigating or rainfall. If water is still pooled up and creating puddles after that time, you’ll need to amend soil to help with draining. This can be done with the addition of soil amendments like: sand, peat moss, and soil conditioners. If you don’t want to amend soil and can’t find a suitable place in the ground of your landscape, plant in a container with draining holes and use a quality potting soil.

3. Minor Maintenance. There really isn’t any significant pests or disease issues that bother esperanza so besides a little pruning here and there, and possibly some extra water delivered in extreme periods of drought, esperanza is relatively maintenance free. Removing the seed pods (they look like long green beans) will encourage more flowering and encourage a bushier, fuller plant. If you want to collect seeds, then wait until seed pods have turned brown, usually around late summer. You can also propagate the plant by taking cuttings.

Esperanza on display

Esperanza Cold Tolerance

While esperanza, also called yellow bells or yellow trumpet, can grow larger in some cases, the average mature height in our area is 3-6 feet tall x 3-4 feet wide. Planting in pots will affect the mature height and width as well. Esperanza offers a long blooming period from late spring to the first hard freeze. Now that’s a good showing!

A note about cold tolerance. Our (usually) mild winters in San Antonio allows esperanza (USDA Zone 8) to come back by the roots after winter dieback. Esperanza in containers might need some extra winter protection or may need to be brought in during severe tmeperatures as their roots aren’t as hardy in pots. It is worthy to note that many esperanza (even north of us in the Spring Branch area) survived this past winter’s severe storm!

Personally I have found all the esperanza that I have grown to be very reliable perennials. They are a little slow to peek back out from their roots, waiting for the heat to help them get going. Once it warms up, they begin growing like gangbusters and are quick to produce their flowers. Are you ready to add esperanza to your planting list?

~The Happy Gardener, Lisa Mulroy