How to Root a Desert Willow


Native to the deserts of Southwest Texas, Southern California and Mexico, the desert willow is a small tree or upright shrub that grows up to 25 feet tall. The trunk is up to 6 inches wide with a dark brown bark, while the light green leaves are narrow and pointed, and grow 4 to 6 inches long. The tree produces large white blooms in the growing season. Although desert willow is naturally found in deserts or sandy and watery soils, it can be grown in the home garden by a method called rooting.

Step 1

Obtain a cutting from your local nursery or cut a 6- to 10-inch shoot from a healthy desert willow in early spring. Make sure the cutting has at least three nodes or buds on it.

Step 2

Immerse the cut end of the cutting into a glass half-filled with water. Place the glass near a sunny window. Add enough water to the glass to keep it half-filled.

Step 3

Mist the cutting daily with a spray bottle. Taper it off to once every three to four days once roots begin to form to help harden the cutting and prepare it for transplanting. Transplant the cutting into a small pot when it has three or four roots that are longer than 2 inches.

Step 4

Fill a 6-inch wide pot that has adequate drainage holes in its base with equal parts peat moss or organic compost and coarse sand. Insert the cutting into it carefully. Water it until the sandy potting medium is evenly moist. Place it in a sunny location and away from drafts. Water frequently, ensuring excess water drains out to prevent root rot. The cutting should grow a root ball after two to three months.

Step 5

Transplant the young desert willow plant to its final location outside. Select a site that receives full sunlight and has well-drained soil. Dig a hole in the size of the root ball and carefully lower it into the hole. Tamp the soil to remove air bubbles. Water the site until the soil is evenly moist.

Things You'll Need

  • Desert willow cutting
  • Sharp knife
  • Spray bottle
  • Small pot
  • Peat moss
  • Compost
  • Shovel


  • The Dirt Doctor: Desert Willow
  • Flatwoods Nursery: Landscaping with Desert Willow
  • USDA: Desert Willow
Keywords: desert willow, desert willows, rooting desert willows

About this Author

Tanya Khan is a freelance author and consultant, having written hundreds of thousands of words for various online and print sources. She has an MBA in Marketing but her passion lies in giving her words wings.