Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
8 ratings

Monday - July 23, 2007

From: Weatherford, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Effect of unusual wet weather on desert willows
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in North Central Texas and have 3 beautiful Desert willow trees that are usually in full bloom. I've kept them pruned to form a nice full tree shape but now they are losing leaves and looking twiggy. We've had a l o t of rain this Spring - could that be the problem? Will the leaves come back if sunshine returns? They're been growing nicely in a Desert scape setting beside our pool with plenty of drainage. Thanks so much!

ANSWER:

Chilopsis linearis, or desert willow, is indeed a lovely large shrub or small tree. It is astonishing when those lilac-colored flowers begin to bloom and the long, slender seed pods are an artform in themselves. There are also burgandy- and white-flowered forms. In spite of the name, it is not at all related to willows, but no doubt was dubbed that because of the shape and growth habit of the branches. Now, what is going on with your plants? Just about anything with the word "desert" in its name is going to be challenged with the kind of weather we have had this year all over Texas. It is native from Southern California to West Texas and into northern Mexico, and has naturalized to the north. The desert willow is accustomed to dry soil and bright sunshine, both of which have been scarce in this part of the country this Spring and early Summer. No doubt, normal conditions will soon prevail, but in the meantime, the fact that the Chilopsis linearis is native to this area means it should be able to tolerate the really strange weather we can have. Native plants are usually very tough and adaptable, that's why they have survived in our somewhat tumultous climate. You can't very well wring out the soil or aim a sunlamp at the plant, but patience and maintaining good drainage around the garden should suffice.

 

From the Image Gallery


Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Problem with Prosopis glandulosa (Honey mesquite)
February 27, 2014 - One of our mature Honey Mesquite trees is losing thumb sized branches high up in the canopy because something is stripping the bark. The branches are completely white for 8-12 inches. Of course the ...
view the full question and answer

Trimming of Escarpment Oak from Austin
May 18, 2014 - We have a 2-year-old quercus fusiformis in our front yard and have been advised by some people that we need to remove the bottom branches and trim the ends of the branches that are hanging far down. ...
view the full question and answer

Problems in germination of Asclepias tuberosa in New York
August 31, 2006 - I am a member of the Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College and I need information on Acleptis tuberosa. I am in USDA zone 6. Last year I planted fresh seeds purchased from Johnny's S...
view the full question and answer

Failing to thrive of non-native rose bushes in Austin
September 24, 2012 - I live in NW Austin and I have lost one knockout rose bush this summer and it looks like another one is failing. The leaves on a cane turn yellow then brown. I do not see whiteflies or black spots o...
view the full question and answer

Care of Styphnolobium affine, Eves necklace
October 05, 2007 - I have an 18 yr old Eve's Necklace tree that is dying from the "bottom up". It has only a few leaves at the very top of the tree. I have, connected to the gutter, a rain barrel from which the exc...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.