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A Showy New Shrub for Your Garden

The Red Hot Tecoma is a low-maintenance beauty.

By Nancy Erdmann

A desert plant variety fresh from the grower is making a name for itself with its vivid blossoms, long flowering season, drought hardiness and compact growth habit. Tecoma ‘Red Hot’, a showy shrub that blooms in shades of red to orange from early spring to late fall, has the added benefit of being a magnet for hummingbirds and other pollinators that are attracted to its colorful tubular flowers.

Red Hot Tecoma is the creation of Tucson-based Civano Nursery Inc. and is a hybrid of the genus Tecoma, a member of the trumpet vine family. Two popular Tecomas you may already be familiar with are yellow bells (Tecoma stans) and orange bells (Tecoma ‘Orange Jubilee’), both spectacular summer bloomers that thrive in the desert heat. But unlike these large, sometimes lanky shrubs that can easily take over a growing area, Red Hot Tecoma reaches just 3 to 4 feet in height and width, making it ideal for smaller spaces in need of color.

For Adam Farrell-Wortman, horticulture manager at Tucson Botanical Gardens, it is a perfect addition to the popular venue. “When landscaping or designing a garden, it’s all about the right plant for the right space,” he remarks. “I was needing a heat-loving smaller shrub that could take a blast of afternoon sun. This variety opens up the ability to use Tecomas in tighter places, and it broadens the color palette. The fact that it has vibrant red flowers sealed the deal because it fit my color scheme.”

Civano Nursery, which was established in 1997, grows many of its plants on 80-plus acres in Sahuarita, about 20 miles south of Tucson. “We focus on native and arid-adapted plants, and we distribute them to all six states of the Southwest,” says Jackie Lyle, brand development manager for the company. “Red Hot Tecoma stays dense and requires minimal maintenance. Best of all, it is very versatile. It doesn’t mind full Arizona sun, and it doesn’t mind part shade. It’s impartial to poor soils and is cold-tolerant. Essentially, it’s a workhorse of a plant.”

Care is simple, as Red Hot Tecoma was bred to thrive in nutrient-poor Southwest urban soils. It requires low to moderate water, should be planted in good-draining soil, does well with a top dressing of compost and, according to Farrell-Wortman, will provide great blooms if it receives a feeding in early spring, but will do fine without. “This is one of those varieties that you can plant, forget about, and it will do fine,” he remarks. “However, with just a little extra attention, it can really be stunning.”

A member of the trumpet vine family, Red Hot Tecoma is ideal for smaller spaces, reaching a mature height and width of just 3 to 4 feet. Blooming from early spring to late fall, the vibrant red flowers attract hummingbirds and other pollinators.


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