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Tecoma alata

Previously known as:

  • Bignonia alata
  • Bignonia guarume
  • Gelseminum alatum
  • Tecoma fulva subsp. guarume
  • Tecomaria alata
  • Tecoma stans 'Orange Jubilee'
Phonetic Spelling
Ta-CO-ma a-LA-ta
Description

Orange Bells is a broadleaf evergreen shrub that has clusters of bright orange trumpet-shaped flowers. The flowers are present from late spring until the first frost. The flowers bloom all year round in warmer climates. The shrub grows from 10 to 15 feet tall and 8 to 10 feet wide. The plant is a member of the Bigoniaceae or Trumpet Creeper Family which are mostly tropical trees or shrubs. There appears to be some confusion in the literature regarding the shrub's scientific botanical name. Other common names include Flaming Bells, Orange Star, Orange Trumpet Bush, and Tecoma Orange Jubilee. 'Orange Jubilee' is a cultivar. One resource states that Orange Bells is the hybrid between Cape Honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis) and Yellow Trumpetbush (Tecoma stans.)

Tecoma fulva subsp. guarume, which is a synonym for Tecoma alata, is native to Peru and northern Chile. The shrub is hardy from USDA zones 8a to 11b.

The origin of the genus name, Tecoma, is a contraction of the Mexican name for one of the species known as "tecomaxochitl.". The species name, alata, is Latin and means "winged or having furnished with wings."

Orange Bells prefer full sun. It will survive in partial shade, but the number of blooms will decrease. Loamy, sandy, and rocky soils are well tolerated. Heavily alkaline soils result in chlorosis causing the leaves to yellow. Young plants require frequent watering to establish their roots. Once the shrub is established, it is more drought-tolerant. They are fast-growing and leggy. Orange Bells grow more aggressively in hot and humid climates. The shrub will freeze in temperatures less than 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Pruning is recommended in the late fall or winter to control the plant's height and shape. The shrub is propagated by seeds, softwood cuttings, or stem cuttings.

The leaves are glossy green, opposite, and pinnately compound. The leaflet margins are serrated. The flowers are bright orange and appear in clusters or racemes. The fruits are long, narrow, light brown capsules containing the seeds.

The nectar of the flowers attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and many other birds.

In the landscape, Orange Bells are often grown on patios in containers in warmer climates. They may be used as an accent, border, or hedge to provide privacy and screening. 

Quick ID Hints:

  • Opposite pinnately compound leaves
  • Leaflets are glossy green with serrated margins
  • Bright orange trumpet-shaped flowers
  • Thin, elongated fruit capsules

Insects, Diseases, and Other Problems: 

Typically, there are no notable pests or diseases. However, in Arizona, phytophthora root fungus has been known to cause sudden death to this shrub. The leaf skeletonizer caterpillar will chew on the foliage, but the injury is merely cosmetic.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Orange Jubilee'
    Orange/red flowers
'Orange Jubilee'
Tags:
#hummingbirds#full sun tolerant#drought tolerant#wildlife plants#nectar plant#orange flowers#tubular flowers#low maintenance#fast growing#privacy#large shrub#seed pods#screening#green leaves#border back#garden walls#tropical feel#container plants
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Orange Jubilee'
    Orange/red flowers
'Orange Jubilee'
Tags:
#hummingbirds#full sun tolerant#drought tolerant#wildlife plants#nectar plant#orange flowers#tubular flowers#low maintenance#fast growing#privacy#large shrub#seed pods#screening#green leaves#border back#garden walls#tropical feel#container plants
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Tecoma
    Species:
    alata
    Family:
    Bignoniaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Peru and Northern Chile
    Distribution:
    USA: AL, AZ, CA, FL, NV,NM, TX
    Wildlife Value:
    Attracts hummingbirds, other birds, and butterflies.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Colorful
    Easy to Grow
    Screening
    Dimensions:
    Height: 10 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 8 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Open
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruits are long narrow brown capsules. When the capsules are mature they break open and release the seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Orange
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Trumpet
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    The flowers are bright orange trumpet-shaped flowers that are arranged in clusters.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are glossy green, opposite, pinnately compound with serrate edges.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Lenticels:
    Conspicuous
    Stem Description:
    The stems are brownish-gray, and stem lenticels are present.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Patio
    Rock Wall
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Heat
    Humidity
    Poor Soil
    Rabbits