How to Grow 'Orange Jubilee' (Orange Bells)

Orange belle flowers

 

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'Orange Jubilee' is one of the named cultivars of Tecoma stans, also known as Tacoma alata. The species plant is often known as "yellow bells." The 'Orange Jubilee' cultivar, also known as "orange bells," resembles the species plant in most ways, but it is a smaller shrub with bright orange tubular flowers rather than yellow. This is a broadleaf evergreen shrub with pointed, glossy dark leaves that contrast deeply against the bright orange flower clusters that appear steadily from late spring until frost—or year-round in frost-free zones.

'Orange Jubilee' is a fast-growing shrub with leggy growth habit. Even when it dies back to the ground, it will return to blooming maturity the following year. These shrubs are inexpensive, easy to grow, and relatively drought-resistant. They make good specimen shrubs in warm, dry climates, and are often grown as patio container plants, similar to how bougainvillea plants are grown.

Botanical Name Tacoma stans or T. alata
Common Name Orange jubilee, orange bells
Plant Type Broadleaf evergreen shrub
Mature Size 4–8 feet; 3–6 feet wide
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Thrives in any well-drained soil
Soil pH 6.0–8.0 (slightly acidic to slightly alkaline)
Bloom Time Late spring to fall
Flower Color Orange
Hardiness Zones 8–11 (USDA)
Native Area Southern United States, Central and South America
Toxicity Non-toxic (disputed by some sources)
Orange jubilee in bloom
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'Orange Jubilee' Care

'Orange Jubilee' is a common landscape shrub in the Southwest U.S., as it adapts well to sunny desert climates, will grow in sandy soil, and requires very little water. It can be planted as a border, along walls, in large pots, or as a hedge. It will bloom all summer long and into the early fall, and removing the seed pods will help encourage a more extended flowering period.

It can grow up to 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide, making it a practical choice for masking an unsightly air conditioning unit or chain link fence. It's an excellent plant for beginner gardeners as it requires very little maintenance once acclimated to its surroundings.

Plant 'Orange Jubilee' as you would any shrub: in a well-prepared hole at least twice as wide as the nursery container. Backfill around the root ball and water thoroughly immediately after planting. Keep the plant moist until it is well established. If you wish to grow it as a potted patio plant, use a large well-draining container filled with a standard potting mix blended with one-third coarse sand.

There are almost no notable pest and disease problems with this plant. In colder climates, it may die back, but it will generally return full force and can be treated like a woody perennial, clipped back to the ground each fall.

Light

'Orange Jubilee' loves the sun and will appreciate over eight hours of sunlight a day, if possible. It can survive when planted in partial shade, but it will not bloom to its full potential. It does not do well when planted in full shade.

Soil

'Orange Jubilee' will grow in almost soil, from loam to rocky sand. But it does require good draining soil and won't survive in sites with standing water, so avoid planting it in lower areas of your yard. In heavily alkaline soils, the shrub's foliage may experience chlorosis—a condition that causes leaves to turn yellow.

Water

Mature 'Orange Jubilee' plants will tolerate drought, but they will also grow in moist conditions. Even though they're able to survive periods without rain, they do appreciate occasional watering during a particularly lengthy dry spell. Younger plants require consistent watering until their roots establish. If grown in a container or pot, the shrub may need more frequent waterings than if planted 'in the yard.

Temperature and Humidity

'Orange Jubilee' can endure dry conditions with very high temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more. It will also thrive in hot areas with high humidity like Florida or coastal Texas, but use caution when planting, as it can grow aggressively in this type of climate. The plant will freeze to the ground if temperatures dip to 28 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, but the plant usually returns unless the freezing spell is very long.

Fertilizer

When first planting an 'Orange Jubilee' bush in the spring, you can add tree and shrub fertilizer to encourage new growth and root system development. Additional fertilization may be helpful but is not necessary in most cases. If you do choose to fertilize your 'Orange Jubilee' plants periodically, make sure you also give water with each application. The fertilizer will not work if applied to dry ground.

Is 'Orange Jubilee' Toxic?

There is some confusion about Tacoma stans, since some sources list it as poisonous while others omit it from their list of toxic plants. Most experts view this as a non-toxic plant, and the confusion among online sources may arise due to the close resemblance it bears to trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) which is mildly toxic.

Varieties of Tecoma Stans

While 'Orange Jubilee' is itself a named variety, there are also other varieties of Tacoma stans you can consider for your landscape:

  • Yellow bells (Tecoma stans): This is the original species plant, which is quite similar to 'Orange Jubilee', except for its yellow flowers. It usually grows taller than 'Orange Jubilee', and it is more notorious for being invasive.
  • Tecoma stans 'Crimson Flare': This is a 6- to 8-foot shrub with bright red flowers. It is somewhat more cold hardy, surviving temperatures down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Tecoma stans 'Esperanza': This cultivar is similar to 'Orange Jubilee', but with bright yellow flowers. It is a smaller, better-behaved plant than the species shrub.

Pruning

'Orange Jubilee' is often left untended, allowing the blossoming branches to get long and weepy, but deadheading the spent flowers will extend the blooming season. If space is a concern and you don't have enough room for the shrub to reach its full height and width, it will need to be trimmed several times over the summer. If consistently pruned, it can remain a more structured bush, but you may need to sacrifice some of the flowers to maintain the shape. It is best pruned in the late fall after the shrub has finished blooming. You can also train and shape this shrub as a small tree.

If branches become damaged from frost in the winter, 'Orange Jubilee' can be cut back to encourage new growth in the spring.

Propagating 'Orange Jubilee'

You can reproduce 'Orange Jubilee' using two methods:

  • By seed: Let the seed pods dry on the plant and then pluck them from the branches. Place the pods in a paper bag to dry over the winter. When the threat of frost has passed, plant the seeds in your yard in a sunny location. Water the seeds daily until they sprout and become established.
  • By cuttings: Trim several semi-hardwood branches—they should snap when bent but some green should remain in the stem. Dip the cuttings in rooting hormone powder, and then plant them in a container of potting mix. Water and mist the cuttings daily and keep them in an area where they will receive sun. You can choose to keep them inside or outside if it's warm enough. Once they take root, you can transfer the plants to your desired location.