The yellow elder (Tecoma stans) is a showy shrub that needs space to grow and expand. The bright green foliage creates a refreshing contrast with the trumpet-shaped, bright yellow flowers.
The Tecoma stans is easy to grow and it has many applications as an attractive ornamental shrub.
To keep your yellow elder in best health, follow my plant care tips below.
Yellow Elder Plant Care Tips
You’ll come across the yellow elder under several different names including Esperanza, trumpet bush and yellow bell.
They all refer to the same heat-resistant plant that thrives in hot climates and attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
The tips below will paint the full picture on how to take care of this spready bush.
When it comes to the size of the yellow elder, you’ve got a lot of it to work with.
If climate and soil conditions are ideal, the yellow elder is capable of vigorous growth, achieving a height of 12 to 20 feet.
Most gardeners, however, will keep it trimmed at a manageable 6-8 feet tall and wide.
When planting this shrub, make sure to leave enough space on either side because they grow wide.
If you’re planting multiple yellow elders, don’t group them together. Leave around 6 feet between them. You should also avoid planting close to the house or close to a walk or drive.
While this shrub is a fast and vigorous grower, its branches don’t have much time to strengthen up. Strong winds can damage the branches, so place in a location protected from strong winds.
The yellow elder does best if it’s exposed to a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight per day.
If the plant gets too much shade, it won’t grow as vigorously, and may have trouble blooming.
Partial shade will also work but it may cause your yellow elder to grow leggy. Full sun is what works best for this plant.
The yellow elder welcomes watering when the weather is consistently hot and dry.
Excess watering is not tolerated well, especially because of the potential for diseases like rot or mildew.
If there’s normal rainfall in your area, you don’t need to water this plant.
Temperature & Humidity
The yellow elder thrives in USDA plant hardiness zones 8-10. During winter, the plant will die back, and roots are cold resistant only down to USDA 7.
As long as the soil is well-draining, the yellow elder will flourish. The yellow elder grows in alkaline or acidic soil, sand, clay or loam.
The only requirement is for the soil to drain well. Working some compost into the soil to improve drainage.
The yellow elder does not like the soil to be waterlogged and roots can rot if they receive too much moisture.
Normally, there is no need to fertilize the yellow elder. It will grow and bloom without it.
If the plant seems to do poorly, you may try to use a good quality granular fertilizer, only three times a year.
Potting & Repotting
You can grow the yellow elder in large containers and keep it on a patio. Of course, it will need pruning to keep it from growing out of control.
Repotting should be carried out as needed when the plant outgrows its container, or the soil needs to be refreshed.
Yellow Elder Plant Propagation
You can propagate the yellow elder from seeds or cuttings.
To propagate from seeds, allow the seeds to dry. Take a tray or a pot, fill it with peat moss or vermiculite and keep the mix constantly moist but not soggy.
Make sure to keep the tray or pot out of direct sunlight. At 72 F the seeds will germinate within 21 days tops.
To propagate from cuttings, choose stem cuttings that are about 3-4 inches long. Best to harvest these during the summer or spring.
Place the cuttings in a small pot that has perlite and peat moss. Make sure to moisten the potting medium and keep everything covered with a transparent plastic bag.
When new growths emerge, you can transfer the cutting to a larger pot with regular potting medium.
When the Tecoma stans cuttings reach 1 ft tall, you can transplant them in your garden keeping in mind its soil and light requirements.
Yellow Elder FAQs
In the FAQs below I’ll cover aspects related to trimming and other quick facts you should know before planting a yellow elder in your garden.
Is the yellow elder toxic to pets?
The yellow elder does present some level of toxicity; therefore, you should carefully handle this plant and keep it out of the reach of children and pets.
Both its ingestion and the contact with its sap can cause allergic reactions and toxicity.
How to prune the yellow elder?
The yellow elder needs pruning, but never excessively. Pruning it once a year in late winter is usually enough to keep it at a good size.
When winter frost damages the plant, try cutting it back all the way down to the ground, then cover roots abundantly with mulch. In spring, there’s a fair chance the yellow elder will sprout new growths.
Careful not to prune in spring when new growths appear. These new growths are where flower buds are forming.
Pruning will also strengthen the trunk of the yellow elder and encourage fuller growth.
Are yellow elders prone to diseases and pests?
Yellow elders are very resilient in the face of diseases and rarely ever have pest problems.
Chewing insects and scale are the only problems that you may encounter.
Are there more yellow elder varieties?
Yes, there are a few varieties of yellow elder, some with more appealing attributes such as the Gold Star Esperanza, which is a dwarf variety (reaches 3-4 feet) that has a better cold resistance.
Because of its beauty and versatility (it can be grown as a tree or a shrub), the yellow elder has multiple landscape uses.
You can fill out corners of a house, use it as a backdrop plant, use it along fences as a divider or as a cover, or use it as a plant to keep shade on the patio.