En EspaŅol

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?


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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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


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.


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

Montezuma cypress trees for San Antonio
June 23, 2012 - Are Montezuma cypress trees good drought tolerant trees for your yard? I live 30 miles south of San Antonio; would this tree be good for this area?
view the full question and answer

Suitability of Monterrey oaks for small space in San Antonio
April 23, 2009 - I am purchasing a home and the existing owners have planted three Monterrey oaks in the back. It is a small yard and the trees are no more than 15 feet from the house.The trees back up to a fence that...
view the full question and answer

Possible fungal infection of oak trees in Mastic Beach, NY.
June 19, 2012 - Sir, I have a yard full of HUGE Oaks. The one in question is about 80' tall 48" in diameter at the base. They are all well maintained fed and trimed and elevated every 3 or 4 years. About 4 years a...
view the full question and answer

Leaves dropping from a potted Mesquite
August 11, 2014 - I have a Prosopis pubescens (Screwbean Mesquite) that I purchased at a nursery in Alpine, TX just a few miles away from me. It was a in nursery style black plastic container. The mesquite is perhaps a...
view the full question and answer

A Crabapple for the Austin, TX area.
May 06, 2014 - I am in search of crab apples. Don't they grow in Austin? I can not seem to be able to locate any here. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center