Yellow bell is a native of Texas that has now been introduced into cultivation. It is a frost-delicate small to medium shrub that thrives in bright sunlight and dry conditions. As a landscape plant it provides colorful yellow flowers that lure bees for their nectar. The yellow bell or esperanza is only hardy in zone 8. If you wish to grow it in another zone it should be potted or treated as an annual. The yellow bell plant quickly sprouts from seed in warm sandy soil and grows quickly. The seeds are contained in bean-like pods that ripen to a brown color and then split open.
Things You'll Need
- Yellow bell plant pods
- Potting soil
- Seed flats with lids
- Warming mats
- 2-inch pots
Pull the pods off a mature esperanza plant before they are so ripe they burst and scatter the seed. This would be late summer to early fall. Put the pods in a warm place to dry out. After two or three days, crack open the pod over a baggie and collect the seeds.
Mix half sand and half potting soil and fill the seed flat. Yellow bell plant likes to grow in dry sandy or gritty soil. This will mimic its natural medium. The seed will not need extra treatment to break dormancy. It is ready to plant right from the pod.
Push holes 1/4 inch deep into the potting medium 2 inches apart. Put a seed into each hole and brush soil to cover them. Mist the soil until it is moist to the touch. Put the covers on the seed flats and place them on the warming mats. The room temperature should ideally be 70 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. The warming mats can be set to 65 or 70 degrees.
Water the plants two to three times a week or when the soil surface looks dry. After the seeds have germinated in a few weeks, place the flats in bright light. Keep the area warm and continue to mist the seedlings.
Transplant the seedlings to 2-inch pots when they have two sets of true leaves. Use the same soil mixture you used for germination. Let the plants grow until they are 3 to 4 inches tall and plant them outside. Keep the soil on the dry side and make sure they have a full day of sunshine.
Harvest the pods at the end of summer. Dry the seeds and store them in a warm dry place until you are ready to use them in spring. If you live in zone 8, just leave the pods on the plant and allow it to self-sow for more yellow bell babies.