How to Care for a Desert Willow Tree


The gorgeous desert willow tree is a large plant, naturally growing over 20 feet tall and equally as wide. In late spring the desert willow produces trumpet-shaped flowers from yellow or white, to purple or pink. If you have a full sun area large enough for its growth, the desert willow looks attractive as a background to your yard, hides walls, or can be planted as a screen to block out unsightly views. Once established it is easy to care for a desert willow tree, which requires little to no maintenance.

Step 1

Dig a hole twice the size of your desert willow's pot, transplanting from early summer through early fall. Carefully remove your plant from the pot as the coarse roots don't hold a rootball well.

Step 2

Set your plant into the hole, and fill in with the native soil, or add amendments such as sandy loam or gravel to help increase the drainage of the area.

Step 3

Water the plant well on a weekly basis for the first month to help it get established. The soil should be allowed to dry on the surface so the roots are encouraged to grow deep.

Step 4

Keep watering monthly from late spring to early fall, but back off to watering only every 6 weeks through the winter. After the tree reaches the size you want, stop regular watering.

Step 5

Prune off any suckers or weak, twiggy growth after the desert willow tree has been allowed to grow undisturbed for the first few years.

Step 6

Cut back the willow to the ground every 3 to 5 years in the winter if you want the tree to be more dense and shrub-like rather than letting it reach a full mature size.

Tips and Warnings

  • Although most of the time fertilizer is used as an aid for growing plants, for the desert willow tree fertilizer is not recommended as it makes the new growth weak and cannot withstand strong winds.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Desert willow plant
  • Gravel or sand (optional)
  • Water
  • Hand pruners


  • How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest; Jill Nokes; 2001
  • New Mexico Gardener's Guide; Judith Phillips; 2005
Keywords: desert willow, desert willow tree, caring for desert willow

About this Author

Writing from Virginia, Margaret Telsch-Williams specializes in personal finance, money management, gardening, crafts and sewing, cooking, DIY projects and travel. When not writing instructional articles online, she works for the website Widescreen Warrior as a contributor and podcast co-host discussing all things film and entertainment. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology and a master's degree in writing.