En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - May 17, 2013

From: Golden Valley, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Pruning, Trees
Title: Planting and care of Desert Willow in Golden Valley, AZ.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


I got a desert willow to plant in yard. Some of the leaves dried out before I could plant. Will that stop the tree from growing into a decent size tree or stay as a shrub?


Desert Willow Chilopsis linearis (Desert willow) is  referred to as small tree or large shrub and should do well in Mojave County AZ. I’ve included the growing conditions from its NPIN page.

Growing Conditions
Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Drought Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Well-drained limestone soils preferred, but also does well in sands, loams, clays, caliches, granitic, and rocky soils. Minimal organic content the norm.
Conditions Comments: Allow to dry out between waterings, as this will encourage more extensive waves of blooms. Avoid excessive water and fertilizer, as that can lead to overly rapid growth, fewer blooms, and a weaker plant. Prolonged saturation can result in rot. Wont grow as fast or get as large in clay soil but wont suffer there either. Can be drought-deciduous in some regions. Can survive temperatures as low as 10 degrees F.

It is not clear to me what the size of the tree is, or whether you have planted the tree yet. The dried leaves, if there weren’t too many, will probably have little effect on determining whether the plant becomes a tree or remains a shrub. This is more related to pruning as the tree develops.

To help you with your Desert Willow, I’m including links that deal with
 tree planting  and care Transplant Shock, and Pruning .


From the Image Gallery

Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

More Planting Questions

Planting times for aquatic plants from Winston Salem NC
July 12, 2012 - I need to know the correct time of year to plant the following pond plants Swamp Rose Mallow, Southern Blue Iris, Soft Rush, American Bur-reed, American lotus, Woolgrass and Duck Potato Is it better...
view the full question and answer

Need a native pine tree for Austin, TX.
December 21, 2013 - Is there a native pine tree that you would recommend for the Austin, Texas area? We're considering the Colorado pinyon pine (Pinus edulis) or the Papershell pinyon (Pinus remota)? Would either of the...
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

When to plant non-native red-tip photinia
November 17, 2011 - When do you plant the Red-Tip Photinia Flowering Shrubs in Roanoke VA?
view the full question and answer

How close can I plant Mountain Laurels to my house in Austin, TX?
December 08, 2010 - Hello, I'm interested in planting 2 or 3 Texas Mountain Laurels on the side of my house and I'm wondering just how close is safe. I've been told that planting trees too close can damage the slab f...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center