En Español

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
1 rating

Thursday - April 23, 2009

From: Odessa, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Space for a desert willow in Odessa, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a small planting space about 5X5 that is four feet in front of the side of my front door. It is right under the eaves of my house. It's rather an enclosed porch space. I have a new very small desert willow that would look pretty there, but am afraid this space is too small. Could I keep the willow trimmed to fit this space, or am better off with something else? I need a little height there with color, preferable. The willow is 3 ft. tall.

ANSWER:

If you follow this plant link, Chilopsis linearis (desert willow), you will learn that this tree can grow to be 15 to 30 ft. tall, and  it can be expected to develop into a wider space than 5x5 ft. It needs full sun, good drainage and not a lot of water, and should do well in your part of West Texas. However, it does need room, and is not the sort of tree you would want to prune into a shape, or reduce its natural size. In spite of its name, it is not related to willows. The Desert Willow is valuable in reducing erosion on the side walls of canyons and has beautiful purple, pink and white blooms. We would suggest you find a larger space for your little tree, where it can grow up to be a big graceful tree. 

To replace that tree in your spot by the porch, let us suggest a few smaller shrubs that would probably work out very well there. We will go to Recommended Species, click on the High Plains on the Texas map, and select for shrub under Habit. From this we selected two shrubs, and then picked another one that we especially like and that we think would do well in your part of the state.

Mahonia swaseyi (Texas barberry) - 3 to 4 ft. tall, evergreen, blooms yellow February to April, needs full sun

Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita) - 3 to 6 ft., evergreen, blooms yellow February to Arpil, sun to part shade

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) - 3 to 6 ft., evergreen, takes pruning well, blooms white, pink, violet, can bloom periodically year round, needs sun to part shade.


Chilopsis linearis

Mahonia swaseyi

Mahonia trifoliolata

Leucophyllum frutescens

 

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Decorative Trees for Scenic Bench in Fairhope IL
June 10, 2012 - I am looking for a recommendation for a pair of small trees (does not grow taller than 18-20 feet) that can provide shade on either side of a stone bench. The site is in full sun, western exposure an...
view the full question and answer

Best time to trim oak trees to avoid oak wilt
June 08, 2008 - When is the best time to trim oak trees? Concerned regarding oak wilt if cut at wrong time. Ball moss is not harmful but will it help or harm if trees trimmed. These are large oak trees. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Transplanting non-native crape myrtle in Scottsdale AZ
May 11, 2014 - When is the best time to transplant dwarf crape myrtle in Scottsdale AZ?
view the full question and answer

Leaf fall from Cedar Elm planted in clay
August 17, 2008 - I saw the answer to leaves falling off a cedar elm planted in clay. However I planted a Cedar Elm in my back yard. I dug a hole in the grass then planted and put grass back on top. I water every other...
view the full question and answer

Problem with unknown tree in Austin, Texas
July 23, 2013 - Have recently moved to Austin, Texas and have a tree in my backyard that has been dropping leaves and one major branch appears to be dead. That branch has hard rust colored sap circles (about penny si...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center