How to Propagate Desert Willow Trees


The desert willow is a medium-sized, heat-loving tree that grows to heights of 25 to 30 feet with a canopy spread of 15 to 25 feet. As the shrub ages, the smooth bark of the trunk turns gnarled and rough. White flowers emerge in the summer months, and long seed pods develop in the fall. Though adapted to hot desert climates, the desert willow needs more water than most other desert-dwelling plants. In the wild, the desert willow grows naturally along creeks and streams and near ponds and lakes. The desert willow is well suited for USDA plant hardiness zones 7b to 11.

Propagating from a Cutting

Step 1

Cut an 8-inch semi-woody branch from a mature desert willow tree in early spring, when the tree is still in its dormancy period.

Step 2

Fill a 12-inch planting pot with clean sand. Make a hole in the center that is 1 inch deep and slightly wider than the cutting.

Step 3

Roll the end of your cutting in hormone rooting powder and slide it into the planting pot, being careful not to rub off the rooting powder.

Step 4

Water the pot until the sand is thoroughly and evenly damp. Keep the pot in a warm, moist area. The soil temperature in your pot must remain above 65 degrees F for the cutting to root.

Step 5

Place a clear plastic bag upside down on the pot, and fasten the opening around the lip of the pot with a rubber band or twist tie. The cutting should root in eight weeks.

Step 6

Transplant your cutting outside or into the ground when it develops two or three leaves. Handle the cutting carefully to avoid disrupting the delicate new root system.

Propagating from Seed

Step 1

Collect a seed pod from a desert willow tree anytime between late October and mid-December. Break open the pod and remove the seeds.

Step 2

Fill a 6-inch planting pot with a mixture of equal parts potting soil and coarse sand. Make a 1/4-inch-deep hole in the center.

Step 3

Place one seed into the hole and cover it with soil. Water the pot until the soil is evenly damp.

Step 4

Place the seedling in a warm area with a temperature between 65 and 75 degrees F.

Step 5

Move your seedling into a 12- to 15-inch pot when it is 8 to 12 inches tall.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Planting pot
  • Clean sand
  • Hormone rooting powder
  • Potting soil
  • Plastic bag
  • Rubber band or twist tie


  • University of Arizona: Desert Willow Indigenous Imposter
  • New mexico State University: Desert Willow
  • Forest Service Department of Agriculture: Desert Willow

Who Can Help

  • National Arboretum-USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: seed propagation, usda plant zones, propagating cuttings

About this Author

Olivia Parker has been a freelance writer with Demand Studios for the past year, writing for Garden Guides and eHow. She has studied herbal and alternative medicine and worked as a landscape artist and gardener. Parker is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Arts from Boston University Online.