Eastern Tiger Swallowtail finds the gold-flowered esperanza to
be the perfect meal.
The Esperanza or
yellow bells, have truly been outstanding all summer and they just
keep flushing with blooms. In addition to the yellow selections we are
also growing at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Garden, Orange Jubilee
that has been doing its part to bring in pollinators. By that I mean
butterflies and hummingbirds are always found hitting on the blossoms.
Whether you can grow these as perennials, or annuals like a petunia,
they are must-have plants for beauty and the backyard wildlife
It was a few
years ago that most gardeners outside of the warm regions had never
tried this plant. Then the yellow form called Gold Star became a Texas
Super Star winner. Pan American Seed kept the interest going by
introducing Mayan Gold the first widely produced seed selection making
it a choice annual selection all across the country. A couple of years
ago I wrote about a new favorite called Sierra Apricot that is truly
outstanding and now there seems to be new varieties hitting the market
on a regular basis.
Sierra Apricot ,
Orange Jubilee, Solar Flare, Sunrise and Crimson Flare are all hybrids
of Tecoma stans and Tecoma alata and found in the Bignonia family.
This means they are related to our native cross-vine and trumpet
creeper. These, however, are tropicals native to the warmest parts of
the United States, Mexico and South America. Though many books and
references list them as a zone 9, the esperanzas normally return from
the ground in zone 8. But donít let this deter you from buying them
next spring and using as an annual or a protected container plant.
generic esperanza can get quite large, usually well over 10 feet in
warm climates. In South Texas many gardeners keep them cut back like
you might do with other shrubs. Sierra Apricot and Mayan Gold however
are much more compact selections reaching only 4 to 5 feet tall. Solar
Flare, Crimson Flare and Orange Jubilee can reach 8 feet in height.
They all are known for blooming from late spring through frost and
virtually laughing at July and August heat.
Select a site in
full sun for best blooming, but know they also perform nicely in
morning sun and afternoon shade. Grow them in large containers around
the porch, patio or deck, or plant in fertile, well-drained soil in
the tropical-style garden. Amend heavy, poorly drained soil with the
addition of 3 to 4 inches of organic matter and till to a depth of 8
to 10 inches. Good drainage always improves your cold hardiness.
the soil, incorporate 2 pounds of a slow-release, 12-6-6 fertilizer
per 100 square feet of planting area. Dig the planting hole two to
three times as large as the root ball and plant at the same depth it
is growing in the container.
container-grown plants with a diluted water-soluble 20-20-20
fertilizer every other week or use controlled-release granules
according to the formula recommendation. Keep in mind that daily
watering and high temperatures usually mean fertilizing more often.
Feed those in the landscape every four to six weeks with light
applications of fertilizer.
At our gardens,
we use both the Golden Jubilee and Gold Star in and around our
Mediterranean Garden. They are grown in partnership with plants like
firebush, day blooming cestrum and spicy Jatropha ,which we use as an
annual since we are lower zone 8. We also have fall blooming Mexican
bush sage and Cherry sage, which likewise keep the butterflies and
are sold generically, and to be honest I love them all, but keep your
eyes open for the named varieties too. It is fun to grow tropicals at
our homes, and it is especially nice when they bloom non-stop and
attract butterflies and hummingbirds.