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
2 ratings

Thursday - August 27, 2009

From: El Paso, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Transplants, Trees
Title: Transplanting Desert willows in El Paso, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We have some volunteer Desert Willows growing on an empty lot nearby. Can we dig them up and transplant them in the yard? If so, how? They are about 3-4 feet tall


Okay, the first thing you do before you transplant anything from a vacant lot is find out who that vacant lot belongs to and get their permission to take the trees. In most states, going onto property not belonging to you without the owner's permission is trespass and taking something from there is criminal trespass. If it belongs to the Tax Office or a developer who will just bulldoze it when the lot is sold, it probably won't matter. If it belongs to someone who is planning to build on that lot, and intends those trees to be in his landscaping, what do you think will occur to him when he notes three holes in his lot and three new trees on yours? The next thing you do is wait for much cooler weather, like November or even February, to do any transplanting at all. It is never a good idea to transplant, especially woody plants, in heat and drought, which Texas is certainly having this year. When it's cooler and the plant is in semi-dormancy you have the best chance of a successful transplant. 

Chilopsis linearis (desert willow) is native to West Texas, including El Paso County and should do well there. For more information on this plant, follow the plant link to our webpage on the plant and read Desert Willow from The Living Desert. None of our research indicated that there were any special problems to transplanting this tree. You can probably find all the information you need in this University of Georgia Cooperative Extension website Transplanting Woody Plants.

Chilopsis linearis

Chilopsis linearis

Chilopsis linearis

Chilopsis linearis




More Trees Questions

Need trees & shrubs for a 2.5x45 ft. planter box in Chatsworth. CA.
August 07, 2012 - We recently built a pool in our backyard and need to redo all the landscaping. We have a planter that is 45 feet long and about 2.5 feet wide. We'd like to put some trees in this planter that are n...
view the full question and answer

Trees native to Anza Valley California
February 14, 2012 - What are the best trees to plant in Aguanga, California?
view the full question and answer

Can I grow Pawpaw in Central Texas?
May 25, 2010 - Do you have any tips for growing pawpaws (not papaya) in central texas? It appears to be at the edge or slightly beyond its range, but maybe if I'm nice to it.. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Distance from wall to plant Eastern red cedar
September 26, 2008 - I want to plant a row of Eastern red cedar on the high side of a 2 to 2 1/2 ft large Pavestone block retaining wall, preferably as close to the wall as possible. We have put maybe 4-5" of gravel beh...
view the full question and answer

Ashe Juniper not doing well in San Antonio
April 08, 2010 - A large ash juniper (mountain cedar) in my yard appears to be sick or dying. Approximately 1/4 of the canopy has very sparse needles/green foliage stuff and shaggier than normal bark. It's not brown ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center