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
Not Yet Rated

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

More Planting Questions

Growing Loblolly Pine in Salado, Texas
March 09, 2016 - I would like to plant a loblolly pine in Salado, Texas. Will these grow well here?
view the full question and answer

Shallow topsoil on rocky substrate in SW Oregon
April 28, 2009 - I want to plants some shrubs and trees. Trouble is I can't plant very deep. I have mostly rock within 5 inches. Please help.
view the full question and answer

Planting under Pine Trees in Pocatello ID
April 08, 2014 - Hi I was wondering if you could give me some ideas of what I could plant under and near some pine trees for my area. The trees are huge and so it is also constant shade where I want to plant. Thanks f...
view the full question and answer

Problems with evergreen sumac in San Antonio
May 03, 2012 - I planted 5 5-gallon (approximately 2 feet tall) evergreen sumac in early January. Since that time they have sprouted out new shoot with new leaves several times - every time the leaves have wilted a...
view the full question and answer

O.K. to grow grass under a live oak?
November 26, 2014 - Is it a bad idea to plant grass around a mature live oak? We have erosion issues and trying to keep mulch in the beds around the tree groves is a challenge, even with edging. Much of the native dirt...
view the full question and answer

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