The esperanza is one of those shrubs that brings about hope and anticipation for the growing season. Actually, that is what “esperanza” means in Spanish. As a gardener who got his horticultural roots in Texas, I can tell you the Esperanza is a plant to be treasured, and even more so with the debut of Chicklet Orange in 2022.
Chicklet Orange is a new selection known botanically as Tecoma fulva. You’ll find the orange color a great change of pace from the traditional yellow Tecoma stans that is native to Texas and Mexico, where at my house in Mission, Texas, it quickly reached the roof line. Chicklet Orange with South American DNA is more compact, such that even small landscapes can grow it, as well as giving it a place on porches and decks in favorite containers.
Chicklet Orange has good cold-hardiness from zones 8 and warmer. But it’s outstanding when grown as an annual, too. It will reach 36 inches in height, and taller where the growing seasons are even longer. Sun, water and a little fertilizer and you’ll be filled with the esperanza hope and anticipation.
By this I mean Chicklet Orange will bring you continuous orange blooms along with all sorts of pollinators to add excitement in the garden. You’ll find it on the frequent feeding list of swallowtails and hummingbirds. The Garden Guy anticipates combining his with Rockin Blue Suede Shoes salvia on the sides and Augusta Lavender heliotrope in the front. I may try to partner with Pugster Blue and Pugster Amethyst buddleia as well. My plan is to go backyard habitat, all the way.
But you may choose to go tropical, using Chicklet Orange around the pool for the look of the islands. Grow under tall bananas or in partnership with elephant ears like Maui Gold and perhaps some splashes of the blue Cape Plumbago.
Select a site in full sun for best blooming, though they 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.
While preparing the soil, incorporate two pounds of a slow-released 2-1-1 ratio 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. The wider hole really aids in root acclimation.
Feed container-grown plants with a diluted water-soluble fertilizer every other week, or use controlled release granules as per the formula recommendation. Keep in mind that daily watering and high temperature usually means fertilizing more often. Feed those in the landscape every four to six weeks with light applications of fertilizer. Remove seed pods as they form to keep flowers producing.
Spring looks to be amazing with new plant introductions, and if you are a hummingbird lover, then you’ll want to add Chicklet Orange Esperanza to your garden.
(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)
(NOTE TO EDITORS: Norman Winter receives complimentary plants to review from the companies he covers.)
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This story was originally published March 10, 2022 4:00 AM.