Sunday, November 8, 2015

Tecoma x ‘Sparky®’: More Food For The Hummingbirds

I bought a Tecoma x 'Sparky', more for the hummingbirds than for me.  I'm not excited about the flower color--the yellow is strong and clear but the burgundy/bronzy exterior of the flower seems muddy.

It coordinates with Kalanchoe orgyalis, and with the Gaillardia I can't get rid of.  

 
'Sparky' is named after the Arizona State University mascot;  the flower colors are (roughly) the school's colors, yellow and burgundy, and the plant was hybridized by an ASU faculty member, George Hull.  Tecoma is native to xeric climates, including Arizona, and needs little water once established.
 'Sparky' has at least two virtues worth noting:  the growth habit is somewhat more compact than T. stans, with an estimated size of 5-6' tall and 3'-5' wide, and it is almost (or completely) sterile, so it's not going to be reseeding aggresively, if at all, and won't need deadheading to encourage repeat blooming, which is said to be lavish.  If the humingbirds like it--well, I like hummingbirds.

Speaking of hummingbirds, they have been mobbing the feeder lately.  I set up the tripod and new remote shutter control.  Beloved sat on the patio to enjoy a beautiful autumn day and snap some photos. 










 I hope as the Tecoma grows and estabishes, we'll be getting photos of hummers enjoying the flowers. 

21 comments:

  1. I have never seen so many hummingbirds at one feeder! You have the touch. I picked up a Tecoma recently myself, at the South Coast Botanic Garden's fall sale. As with much of what the botanic garden sells, the species and variety weren't identified so, at present, it's anybody's guess what it is.

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    1. Plain dumb luck. Inadvertently found perfect location, chosen because we can sit and watch them from the kitchen table. Its under the patio cover and fairly well protected on 3 sides so the birds know they are not going to get attacked from above and on three sides. They usually perch in the Japanese Maple or the Pittosporums nearby and check out the feeder before they fly in. Then there are salvias and iochroma right on one side as alternative nectar sources.

      From what I read Tecoma takes to pruning without complaint, so you can trim to size and still get lots of flowers. I'm not excited about the color, but I wanted to avoid a lot of reseeding--even though I don't know if they reseed here or not. We'll be able to compare experience with Tecoma--enjoy!

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  2. Hey, I know George...he's a good guy.

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  3. The photos of the hummingbirds are magnificent, these birds are so wonderful. I once had a Tecoma stans in my greenhouse, grown from seed from Madeira, it growed like mad and we got flowers too, After some years it died because we stopped heating the greenhouse in winter, but it was interesting to try it in our climate.

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    1. You are a great gardener, Janneke, to be able to grow such tender plants in your climate. It is fun to try all sorts of new plants, isn't it?

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  4. This is so wonderful and beautiful -- I've had five or so at a feeder at once but this...! I like the Tecoma -- it may be hardy enough for my digs, too. Ay caramba, those hummingbirds!

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    1. From what I read, if Tecoma freezes to the ground it can come back from the roots if established.

      Within 5 or 10 feet of the feeder are salvias and the big Iochroma, and nearby more salvias, aloes, and the Russellias are a new favorite for them. A blooming Agave provides lots of nectar when I have one. There's lots to sip here, besides the feeder. I love hummers!

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  5. Sparky would be a great name for a hummer too. I'm starting to dabble in the trumpets too and brought home a Tecomara over summer named for Gary Hammer, from Annie's. I had to show Marty your photos, because our hummers suddenly turned their noses up at our feeder last spring and we were heartbroken. We changed the formula in the feeder and that was it...pffft! Are you making your own formula?

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    1. Great name for a dog, too, Sparky.

      'Hammers Rose', very nice! My experience with that species is that it is extremely aggressive and hard to get rid of--at the bermuda grass level. Hummers adore it, though.

      I do 4 cups boiling water to each 1 cup of sugar (4-1 ratio). You are supposed to use pure white sugar only as traces of anything else can be toxic. Also the cleaning of the feeder with bleach and then the cleaning out of the bleach so no trace is left. Kind of a pain, but the entertainment value is so high.

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  6. Your hummers play nice and share. Ours could take a lesson. Those are great photos of the mob, especially the ruby throat.

    I just added several Tecoma "Bells of Fire", a pretty red-orange color. I like the new colors to mix with the standard yellow. Yellow Tecoma stans seeds have never sprouted here. Only need water when first planted otherwise on their own back by the fence.

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    1. I am guessing they play nice together because there are so many food sources and so many hummers. Back when the garden was pretty new I had a feeder up and there was a lone male that chased every other bird off. Now perhaps because there are so many hummers and food sources around no one bird can dominate when there are 23 others buzzing around waiting for a perch to open up.

      Not sure if they sprout here or not, but I've had serious trouble with the pea family in the past, which has triggered Fabaceae-paranoia. ;^) 'Bells of Fire' sounds great--I'll keep my eyes open for that one.

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  7. Oh those hummers.. Beautiful birds!

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  8. I think 'Sparky' goes very well with your gaillardia. I actually like the colors. Very desert-like to my eyes.

    I haven't been filling our feeder all summer but it may be time now although there are still plenty of things in bloom.

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    1. I was just about to take the feeder down, figuring some of the summer crowd would migrate on...not yet, apparently!

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  9. Oh my god!! Stunning photos and the sweetest little birds!

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    1. It's magical and humbling to be able to watch and admire them. Happy you enjoyed the post.

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  10. You are profoundly lucky to get to see so many hummingbird in real life.

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    1. I remember that daily. They are magical little creatures!

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  11. It is a lovely looking plant, I like the flower and it is great to see so many hummingbirds coming to your feeder, they are so tiny and sweet and their feathers glow like jewels.
    xoxoxo ♡

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