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Products > Tecoma x smithii
Tecoma x smithii - Orange Bells

Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Bignoniaceae (Bignonias)
Origin: South America
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Orange
Bloomtime: Summer/Fall
Parentage: (Tecoma stans var. velutina x Tecomaria capensis]
Height: 8-12 feet
Width: 8-12 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Seaside: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Tecoma x smithii (Orange Bells) A large evergreen shrub to 8 to 15 feet tall by at least as wide with orange tubular flowers. The flowers fade with age to pale orange-yellow and appear from early spring through fall to first frost can go year-round in frost free years. Best if planted in full sun and watered occasionally but can tolerate light shade and low water conditions. Hardy to the mid 20s F and can resprout if frozen to the ground. This large shrub adds cheery orange color to the garden and can also be trained up as a small tree. It is a hybrid between the central Mexican Tecoma stans var. velutina crossed the South African Tecoma [Tecomaria] capensis. Thought this hybrid does not have leaves as such, Tecoma stans var. velutina is a markedly pubescent plant which distinguishes it from the typical wide ranging Mexican variety, Tecoma stans var. stans and the more northerly variety, var. angustifolia that reaches into Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. In all respects this hybrid is smaller growing, of finer texture and with orange flowers compared to the yellow flowered Tecoma stans. It is attributed to Edwin Smith of Clifton Nursery in Walkerville, near Adelaide, Autralia and he noted it developed in 1882 and that it was named by the Horticultural and Floricultural Society of South Australia in 1883 but the official description is listed as being in 1893 in Gardeners Chronicle by William Watson, the curator at Kew. That is was in early cultivation in the US is evidenced by Dr. Franceschi recording it growing in Santa Barbara in his 1895 survey (from Will Beittel's Dr. F. Franceschi; Pioneer Plantsman) and Liberty Hyde Baily in his 1902 Cyclopedia of American Horticulture (predecessor to Hortus) who noted it was "supposed to be a hybrid between Tecoma mollis (an older name for Tecoma stans var. velutina) and Capensis". This plant has in the recent past also been called Tecoma 'Mystery Orange' and Tecoma shirensis. Adding additional confusion about its parentage is that most references, including The Plant List (the collaboration between the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and Missouri Botanic Gardens) continue to list the valid name of Tecoma capensis as Tecomaria capensis, which would make this an intergeneric hybrid. There is a beautiful big specimen in the middle of Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden, in Santa Barbara and our cuttings originally came from this plant, which we have been growing since 1980, first as Tecoma shirensis and then in 1982 listing it as Tecoma 'Smithii' and finally in 1995 correctly listing it as Tecoma x smithii.  This description is based on our research and observations of this plant as it grows in our nursery and our own landscape plantings and in other gardens that we visit. We also incorporate comments we receive from others and appreciate receiving feedback of any kind from those who have additional information about this plant, particularly if they disagree with what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Tecoma x smithii