Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Support the plant database you love!

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

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
1 rating

Friday - June 12, 2015

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs, Trees
Title: Desert Willow size question from Austin, TX
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Dear MSP, I have a desert willow named Edith. We got her from the CoA a couple of years ago for recycling our Chirstmas tree. She's doing well except her three little trunks are teeny-tiny. We want Edith to be a tree rather than a bush; any ideas how to fatten up the girl's trunks? Does trunk fattening happen as she get older, like the rest of us? Thank you, Debbie

ANSWER:

Sounds like Edith found a good home.  I guess I should look harder - as when I was offered trees, I wasn’t so excited about the ones offered and have lately just been happy to recycle our tree.

  Now, Edith is blessed with a slim figure, she [and you] should be happy with that.  Dropping out of the anthropomorphic mode:  Remember that she is a Chilopsis linearis (Desert willow), a member of the Trumpet Creeper family, related to Tecoma stans (Yellow bells) and Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper).  According to the plant record it grows from 15 to 40 feet tall.  Mine is about 12 feet tall and still has small trunks [about 2” in diameter, rather like the last picture].   I’ve placed most of the tree-like pictures we have below; these configurations are about what you should expect from Edith.

  Fattening her up?  Read the plant record as to what she likes and do just a bit better for her!  [Not too much now, she is a desert plant!]  By the way, Yes - as you surmised her trunk will grow with age, but not at the rate that mine seems to be!

 

From the Image Gallery


Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

More Shrubs Questions

Need to identify Cherry laurel varietyin Bee Caves, TX
March 29, 2016 - I recently had cherry laurels installed in my yard for privacy. Unfortunately, the landscaper does not know what type of cherry laurel they are. The tag from the tree says Che-Com which to me might in...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping with native plants in Austin
October 06, 2005 - I'm expanding a flower bed in front of my house and would like to keep it all natives. 1) How do I find out what type of soil I should add? (I live near Hyde Park, Austin and haven't had a soil te...
view the full question and answer

Leaf loss on Cenizo in Bertram TX
November 17, 2009 - I need help with a purple sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) problem. Most of one of my plants started having paler, more greyish leaves, then the leaves began to fall off. It seemed to still look healthy...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping help for Gilmer, TX
September 01, 2008 - We have just moved to the beautiful hot state of Texas from warm California and we need some help! Our roses are dying, we have a patch about 25ft. by 3ft. that gets the rain run off like a little str...
view the full question and answer

Growing Buttonbush in California
May 24, 2015 - For the Buttonbush, how do you keep it consistently moist?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.