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Fantastic Design Plant: Paint the Summer Landscape With Desert Willow

When you first find a desert willow tree (Chilopsis linearis), you can not help but notice its beautiful blossoms, making it a favorite choice for warm-climate gardeners. Whether you develop it like a tree or as a large tree, desert willow will add beauty for the summertime.

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Botanical name:Chilopsis linearis
Common name: Desert willow
Origin: Native to the American Southwest
USDA climate zones: 6 to 9 (find your zone)
Water requirement: Low
Light requirement: Full sun to semi shade
Mature dimensions: 25 feet tall and broad
Advantages and tolerances: Drought tolerant once established, but does best if watered two or three times per month throughout the summer; attracts bees and hummingbirds
Seasonal attention: Fragrant pink orchid-shaped flowers appear spring through summer
When to plant: Spring summer or autumn

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Distinguishing attributes. The most outstanding trait of desert willow is its flowers, which are borne upon branches coated in willow-shaped leaves. While not a legitimate willow, desert willow is related to pink and red trumpet vines.

Desert willow is a deciduous tree that grows rapidly and can be grown as a large shrub or trained as a multitrunk tree.

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The blossoms of desert willow possess a beautiful orchid form and contrast beautifully with the light-green foliage. In addition to adding beauty to the summertime, the blossoms are fragrant and attract bees and hummingbirds using their nectar.

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The flower color may differ from white to dark pink and all colors in between, depending on the variety. Differences in size, amount of flowers produced, leaf retention in the winter and existence of seedpods are mentioned for its favorite desert willow varieties below.
Art’s Seedless doesn’t create seedpods, accentuating the chilly look of this desert willow variety. ‘Bubba’ produces dark pink flowers, grows larger then most types (30 feet tall and wide) and contains fewer seedpods. ‘Lucretia Hamilton’ has burgundy blossoms and is slightly more compact than other types, reaching 20 feet wide and tall. ‘Classic Beauty’ is coated with bicolor blossoms of lavender and burgundy. It doesn’t create seedpods, is hardy to zone 7 and grows slightly smaller (15 to 20 ft tall and wide). ‘Warren Jones’ contains light pink blossoms, and its foliage is retained longer into sunlight. It’s slightly less cold hardy (zone 8).

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This fast-growing tree produces narrow seedpods in autumn that are retained on the tree through winter when it sheds its leaves. If you find the seedpods objectionable, be sure to choose among those “seedless” types.

Desert willow is a fire-wise plant, which makes is suitable to grow in areas where fire hazard is present.

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The best way to use it. Desert willow is very versatile in the landscape and can be grown as a large shrub or a little to medium-size tree. It’s most popularly developed as a multitrunk tree, in which it supplies light filtered shade throughout the summertime. Place it where you are able to see it from a window and observe the hummingbirds see the nectar-rich blossoms.

Desert willow fits well into smaller areas, which makes it a great patio tree. For a large, informal hedge, let it develop into its normal form.

Pair desert willow using summer-flowering crops like trailing lantana (Lantana montevidensis), Baja ruellia (Ruellia peninsularis)and angelita daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis)for a summer landscape.

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Planting notes. Desert willow does best in full sunlight, though it may also grow in partial shade. Plant it into well-drained soil.

This desert indigenous isn’t fussy and doesn’t expect a great deal of attention. Prune it for contour in the winter and remove any suckers in spring. Eliminate any remaining seedpods in winter if wanted.

Though desert willow is drought tolerant, it seems best with supplemental water. Water it two or three days at the summer months and at least one time a month.

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