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 Planting Questions

Season to plant Pacific Wax Myrtle from Fallbrook CA
July 25, 2013 - Would like to know which season would be the best to plant Pacific Wax Myrtle in Fallbrook, CA area? I presently have invading bamboo, which I want to get rid of. Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Cypress trees near pool in Winter Park FL
August 17, 2012 - I live in Winter Park (Orlando) Florida. I have been gifted two potted cypress trees that I need to get into the ground. The only place I can plant them is in my backyard in between a stand of non-inv...
view the full question and answer

Grasses for a prairie in southeast Texas
September 30, 2013 - We have a small place (about 100 acres) in Colorado County, Texas, on the Colorado River north of the town of Weimar. We are gradually clearing (bulldozing) the woods of cedars. One particular spot ...
view the full question and answer

Brown spots on young redbuds in Lincoln TX
August 01, 2010 - I have lined my driveway in Lee County Texas with Red bud trees purchased both in Dripping Springs and in College Station. The 14 trees are of varying ages and heights (planted during the fall and wi...
view the full question and answer

Problem with magnolias and yaupon in Prosper TX
May 13, 2012 - Problem with Little Gem magnolia - 3 little gems planted next to a fence, in Prosper, TX. Planted 3 years ago, 2009, one of the trees is now withering. The other 2 are doing fine, the one has leaves...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center