Yellow Bells: An Easy Plant for Desert Landscaping

Bright and Cheerful Sonoran Desert Native

Yellow bells desert shrub with flowers

The Spruce / K. Dave

The Arizona desert is hard on plants, even those in landscaped urban settings. Yellow Bells is one of several shrubs that are recommended for people who want hardy desert plants that are perennial (you need to plant them only once). Some additional reasons for their popularity include: they're inexpensive, readily available, low maintenance, relatively drought resistant, and vibrant bloomers through much of the year.

The bush is often used in landscaping as a background screen, in plantings around large patios and ramadas, and in natural desert landscaping. Yellow Bells can also enhance the authentic look of regional or Spanish architecture.

Yellow bells desert shrub with branches and flowers

The Spruce / K. Dave

Yellow Bells Native Environment

The botanical name for Yellow Bells is Bignoniaceae, Tecoma stans. It's also called the Yellow Elder or Trumpet Bush. The plant is a native of the Sonoran Desert which covers areas of the southwestern United States in Arizona and California and of northwestern Mexico. It's the hottest desert in Mexico, with temperatures topping out at 120 degrees Fahrenheit and rainfall measuring at less than 10 inches per year. It's a harsh environment, but in addition to Yellow Bells, cacti, brush, and a few other blooming plants call it home. 

Growing Yellow Bells

Yellow Bells is an evergreen shrub that loves sun and heat. It blooms from late spring through early fall, and It can be grown in a container as well as directly in the ground. It is drought-resistant and does well in almost any soil. When first planted, an application of slow-release fertilizer is recommended, but it's not necessary to repeat fertilizing in subsequent seasons. These fast-growing plants can reach to be 12 feet tall, and several feet wide, and can be pruned to form a tree. They are best planted in areas with lots of surrounding room and shouldn't be placed too close to structures or to swimming pools.

Hummingbird and Bee Friendly

The Yellow Bells blooms are bright yellow and tubular; they look like elongated bells, perfect for attracting hummingbirds and bees. The vibrant green leaves are lance-shaped and look much like feathers.

Yellow Bells are a good choice for a desert butterfly garden. Many of the native and desert-adapted plants available at local nurseries attract butterflies. To add variety to a butterfly garden, choose plants with wide, shallow flowers or with clusters of flowers for which bees can land. Color is a major factor, with yellow and red the most attractive and white considered the least preferable. Additional well-known butterfly favorites for dry climates include desert zinnia, Arizona thistle, and Woolly butterfly bush. 


This desert plant requires very little care once it's established. It will freeze back in the winter months when temperatures dip below 28 degrees Fahrenheit. If a Yellow Bells plant gets frost damage in the winter, cut it back and it will grow again in the spring.

Seed pods are produced and can be removed extending the bloom period and make the bush look better. You can try growing the seeds if you'd like to add additional plants to your landscaping.

There aren't too many pests or diseases to worry about with Yellow Bells. Occasionally, caterpillars can infest a plant, but they can be eliminated with an organic insecticide.