Yellow Bells: An Easy Plant for Desert Landscaping

Bright and Cheerful Sonoran Desert Native

Yellow Bells (Trumpet Bush)
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The Arizona desert is hard on plants, even those in landscaped urban settings. So only the hardiest will do. Yellow Bells is one of several desert plants that are recommended for people who want desert plants that are perennial (you need to plant them only once), hardy, low care, relatively drought resistant, easy to find, pretty cheap to buy, and provide lovely color many times during 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 enhances the authentic look of regional or Spanish architecture.

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

Growing Yellow Bells

Yellow Bells is an evergreen shrub that loves sun and heat. It can be grown in a container. It blooms from late spring through early fall. They are drought resistant, and so don't require too much water. The plant does well in almost any soil.

When its first planted an application of slow-release fertilizer is recommended, but it's not necessary to repeat fertilizing in subsequent seasons.

These are fast-growing plants that grow to about 12 feet tall, and several feet wide. Yellow Bells can be pruned to form a tree. They shouldn't be planted 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 leaves are a vibrant green color.

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 the bees can light on. Color is a major factor, with white considered the least preferable. Well-known butterfly favorites include zinnia, marigold, daisy, thistle, and butterfly bush. 


This desert plant requires very little care once it is established. It will freeze back in the winter months when temperatures go below 28 degrees F. If a Yellow Bells plant get frost damage in the winter, just 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.

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