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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.

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

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Monday - May 31, 2010

From: Phoenix, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Deadheading seedless desert willows for continued bloom in Phoenix AZ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We planted two seedless desert willow trees this spring. Both have bloomed nicely but we now have many stems with the spent flowers still on the tree. Your database for this plant says to "Remove spent flowers and seed pods to encourage continued blooming". Does this mean that the entire stem on which the spent flowers are located should be cut off? Or that just the spent flowers should be removed and the empty stems left on the tree? Similarly for the Tecoma Stans (Orange Jubilee and Sunrise) bushes we have recently planted. Should we remove the entire stem or just the spent flowers?

ANSWER:

We didn't know there was such a thing as a seedless desert willow, but then found this High Country Gardens website seedless desert willow Chilopsis linearis 'Monhews, which means it is a cultivar or selection of native Chilopsis linearis (desert willow). This makes the removal of seed pods to encourage more blooming a little confusing. The purpose of any plant is to reproduce itself. It blooms to attract pollinators and then produces seeds.  If you remove the bloom after it has faded, you will have thwarted the need of the plant to produce seeds, and it will bloom again. If your plant is truly seedless, we're not sure what effect that would have on re-blooming. However, acting on what we do know, we stopped at a neighborhood grocery store parking lot with blooming desert willows in planters. We examined the blooms, which of course, already had seed pods beneath them, as this was obviously a regulation issue desert willow. We observed that both the blooms and the seeds pods were on the end of a small twiglet. Our recommendation would be to sever that twiglet at the joint with the next biggest branch. 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery: (these are NOT the seedless cultivar)


Chilopsis linearis

Chilopsis linearis

Chilopsis linearis

Chilopsis linearis

 

 

 

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