One new-to-us tree that I am really loving is Desert Willow. It always fun when we start growing something new – but this tree is really blowing our socks off. The transition that the crop made last spring was amazing. Of course, we don’t grow many deciduous items so we’re not used to the big spring burst of growth. I looked back in my notes and in April I wrote: “It’s only been a month or six weeks since I walked the rows containing our oldest desert willow trees – they were just bare branches then. Was I in for a surprise when I
was back in that field this morning! What full, beautiful foliage they are sporting now! And the first few blooms have opened too!”
Since Desert Willow is a new product for us, we feel like we learned a few things with this first planting and expect future ones to be fuller and even prettier. We harvested a few this summer and have formulated a plan. Each year we will wait until they go dormant and lose their leaves. Then everything will be dug for the year.
This small accent tree is a native to west and south-west Texas – actually it grows in nature just a little north of our nursery. It flowers from June to October, depending on rainfall. The flowers are purple, pink, white, and burgundy. We wanted to know what color flowers ours had so they were grown from cell division – this year is dark pink ‘Bubba’ and next year we will have a dark burgundy. The seeds are contained in a long narrow pod. When the pod splits open, the hairy, winged seeds are spread by the wind.
Desert willow isn’t a actually member of the willow family but has willow-like leaves. It can grow as tall as 35′. With trimming, you can easily keep your desert willow in the 10-15 foot range if you choose. The trunks grow slowly so we plan to keep the canopy a bit short so that the trees don’t look lanky and top-heavy. The trimming will add fullness to the canopy. Since this tree blooms on fresh growth, trimming will also add flowers.
Most soil types are tolerated, but be sure to plant your desert willow in a well-drained area. I can’t wait to plant one in my yard!