‘Gold Star’ Esperanza
‘Gold Star’ Esperanza begins its long period of bloom in May most years. The plant loves the heat; full sun is a necessity to produce blooms. The yellow, tubular flowers appear in several cycles if the seeds are allowed to form. Gardeners who remove spent blooms are rewarded with continuous color until cold weather arrives. On most sites the stems freeze back to the roots every winter and then grow to 7 or 8 feet tall. In sheltered locations it can become a small tree. Deer do not often eat esperanza but will rub it severely.
Tecoma stans 'Gold Star' (Esperanza, Yellow Bells, Yellow Alder are off-type Tecomas which do not perform nearly as well as does the ‘Gold Star’ selection) is a heat and sun-loving tropical with golden-yellow bell shaped flowers from late spring till frost. Zone 9.
Exposure: Full sun
Size: Three to four feet as an annual.
Blooms: Lightly fragrant, golden yellow, spring till frost.
Uses: Container, specimen, bedding, xeriscape, etc.
Notes: Remove seed pods to promote faster rebloom. Texas native.
'Gold Star' Esperanza is a selection Greg Grant made from a private garden in San Antonio. It was introduced by Lone Star Growers. 'Gold Star' was selected because it was the earliest blooming Tecoma stans that had been trialed. Previously, Esperanza was difficult to sell as it didn't produce blooms in the container until late in the season. 'Gold Star' actually produced them as a liner (small plant). Tecoma stans requires bright light and warm temperatures. It is propagated by softwood cuttings under mist. Bottom heat during the rooting procedure is recommended. This particular selection is intermediate between the West Texas Tecoma stans angustata and the tropical Tecoma stans stans.
Flower and leaf size is intermediate between the two. Although grown as a shrub and a perennial in San Antonio, South Texas, and Mexico, Esperanza works best in the nursery trade as a tropical container plant, similar to Hibiscus, Bougainvillea, and Mandevilla. It is generally sold in one gallon or three gallon containers. Esperanza has relatively few pests. In the greenhouse, it can be attacked by spider mites and aphids. Outdoors it is generally pest free. Too keep the plants tidy and continuously blooming in the landscape, it is recommended that the clusters of seed pods ("green beans") be cut off. All selections of Tecoma stans are uniquely adapted to hot sunny Texas summers. 'Gold Star' provides a more marketable plant however.
‘Texas Lilac’ Vitex
‘Texas Lilac’ Vitex is also called chaste tree or Mexican lilac. The lavender blooms resemble lilacs from a distance, but where lilacs would survive only a few weeks in a South Texas summer, vitex thrives in the heat. Plant it in full sun with plenty of room and it will reach 25 feet tall with a crown at least as wide. Vitex does not provide dense shade with its airy foliage but it blooms most of the summer without irrigation. In September after a droughty summer, it provides color and nectar for the hummingbirds and butterflies. Deer do not seem to eat vitex.
The Mexican Oregano is also a drought-tolerant, June blooming herb which can also beautify a landscape at this time of the year.
Perennial Hibiscus (‘Flare’ selections)