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?

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
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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - August 02, 2011

From: Katy, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Selection of a small variety of Desert Willow for SE Texas
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Looking to plant desert willow as shrub. Any helpful tips to keep height down and plant full or bushy.

ANSWER:

Chilopsis linearis (Desert willow) is a popular small tree for Central and West Texas.  Your biggest problem in Katy will be making sure it is well-drained.  Once a suitable spot is prepared you have a choice of various cultivars, differing in the color of flowers, whether seed-pods are retained, or the size of the mature plant.  The cultivar Lucrecia Hamilton produces deep pink to purple flowers and grows to 18-20 feet in height vs 25 feet for most cultivars.  Other newer cultivars may also have a smaller stature.  You might contact Dr. David Creech at dcreech@sfasu.edu for more information and possible commercial sources.  Mr. Smarty Plants has not been able to locate a nursery in your area that carries the Lucrecia Hamilton cultivar of the Desert Willow.  If you do not have located a source, you might try nurseries farther west.  See the Lady Bird Johnson web site for information on suppliers.

If you can't locate a good source of the smaller Desert willow, you should resort to pruning to achieve the size you desire.  The height of the Desert willow can be controlled to a great degree by pruning.  I have condensed some instructions I found on the Internet, as follows:

Cut the main growing tip while the tree is small and allow several strong leaders to form if you want a multi-branched low-growing tree. Once you have established three or four branches, keep pruning out any extras that might try growing upwards from the base of the tree.

Thin out the canopy to allow sunlight to penetrate to the inside branches. This will keep the tree healthier as well as better looking. All the leaves will be competing for the sunlight and they will tend to bunch up in their growth along the top of the tree. Be careful not to remove more than 20 percent of the canopy or you risk sun injury to the tree.

Remove all the thin twiggy branches inside the tree to force the growth energy into the branches. This will keep good airflow in the tree as well as form stronger branches. Always remove dead growth back to the nearest healthy tissue.

Remember: for best results, full sun and GOOD DRAINAGE.

 

More Trees Questions

Tree for little sun and clay soil in Brooklyn
January 07, 2011 - I need help choosing a specimen shrub or small tree for difficult city conditions. Its a tricky sun exposure only getting about two hours of direct sun at the hottest time of day with clay soil and in...
view the full question and answer

Native specimen tree for Houston, Texas
September 23, 2009 - Looking for recommendations for a specimen tree to flank our front steps. Evergreen, 15 feet tall, maybe 10 feet wide. Will be near icee blue Japanese yews and nearly wild rose bushes. Ideas?
view the full question and answer

Tree to plant by pool replacing mulberry in Las Vegas
January 18, 2009 - I am looking for a tree to plant between my house and pool. We just cut down a mulberry that was here due to its invasive root system. Are there any plants that can tolerate Vegas weather, provide a...
view the full question and answer

Protecting a non-native Meyer Lemon from Freezing in Austin
January 05, 2013 - What is the best way to protect my Meyer Lemon tree from freezing Austin weather? It has been planted in my yard for 1 year and is about 4 feet high
view the full question and answer

Weird growth on oaks in Middleburg FL
February 05, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants; I have this plant/fungus that grows on my trees here in northeast Florida & nobody has been able to identify it for me. It looks like a clump of pine needles growing on the ba...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center