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Mr. Smarty Plants - Growing Chilopsis in Florida

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Thursday - July 25, 2013

From: St Johns FL, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Planting, Trees
Title: Growing Chilopsis in Florida
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I live in St. Johns County, FL between Jacksonville and St Augustine. I live inland, not near the beach. I bought a small desert willow plant in Victoria, TX and brought it back to FL to grow. I plan to plant in a raised bed. Can you provide any information to include in the planting matter so that it could survive in FL? Or would it be best to plant it in a large pot that would dry out more?

ANSWER:

Desert willow (Chilopsis linearis) is a small tree that has willow-like leaves and attractive, large pinkish-white, funnel-shaped blooms that appear after summer rains. It is showy, drought-tolerant and fast growing. It grows best with just enough water to keep it blooming and healthy during the summer months.
Here’s some information about the soil and growing conditions from our website: Well-drained limestone soils preferred, but also does well in sands, loams, clays, caliches, granitic, and rocky soils. Minimal organic content the norm.  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. Won’t grow as fast or get as large in clay soil but won’t suffer there either. Can be drought-deciduous in some regions. Can survive temperatures as low as 10 degrees F.
Prune frequently during its first few years to encourage minimal or single trunks. Water occasionally during prolonged drought. Remove spent flowers and seed pods to encourage continued blooming. To encourage branching and blooming, cut back during winter dormancy by a third.
The tree should grow well in a large pot or in a raised, well drained garden bed with lean soil.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

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