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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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Tuesday - May 09, 2006

From: Brady, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Mountain Laurel and Desert Willow in pots or ground in Brady, TX
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I would really appreciate your advice if a Texas Mountain Laurel (now a 1 gal. size) and a Desert Willow (now a 3 gal.) are good candidates for planting in containers and, if so, what size for each? Any other input would certainly be helpful! Thanks...

ANSWER:

Both Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora) and Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) can be grown in very large containers in Brady, TX. Considering the the size of the pots your plants are now in, you probably want to go up to something in the range of 8-10 gallon pots. There are certainly problems with growing trees in containers, though. Among the most difficult issues is the problem of watering. Potted plants are far more prone to drying than those in the soil. Fertilizer and mineral salt build-up is another issue. Finally, potted plants are far more prone to freeze damage than those rooted in the earth. All of these are issues to consider.

It should also be possible to grow Mountain Laurel, at least, in the ground. The Atlas of the Vascular Plants of Texas shows it occurring in your neighboring county, San Saba. Desert Willow, however, has not been recorded as occurring near McCulloch County (i.e, in a neighboring county).
 

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