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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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

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