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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 forma 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 where it better tolerates lower irrigation regimes. 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 thought to be a hybrid between the central Mexican Tecoma stans var. velutina and the South African Tecoma [Tecomaria] capensis. Though this hybrid does not have leaves as such, Tecoma stans forma velutina has foliage that is more pubescent, which distinguishes it from the typical wide ranging Mexican variety, Tecoma stans var. stans and the more northerly variety, T. stanss var. angustifolia, which ranges 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. This hybrid was attributed to Edwin Smith of Clifton Nursery in Walkerville, near Adelaide, Australia and noted as being developed in 1882 and later named for him 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 later as as Tecoma 'Smithii' and finally since 1995 correctly as Tecoma x smithii.  This description is based on our research and observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We will also incorporate comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information about this plant, in particular if this information is contrary to what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Tecoma x smithii.