How to Propagate Desert Willow


The desert willow is a classic yard tree, adding a focus point of beauty to almost any yard. Its blooms are very distinctive and come in a wide range of colors. The desert willow, once established, tolerates drought relatively well and should be planted in well-drained soil. It can be grown from fresh seeds, but these degrade quickly and should be planted in soil as soon as collected). A better way to propagate any willow, including the desert willow, is by rooting cuttings. Not only will rooted cuttings produce a plant identical to the parent plant (which seeds may not), but trees grown from cuttings mature two to three years sooner than trees grown from seeds.

Step 1

Cut the tips off several dormant branches of a desert willow. Take cuttings late in the season when the willow has dropped most of its leaves. Cuttings should be approximately 6 inches long and the cut should be made approximately 1/2 inch below a leaf node.

Step 2

Fill a bottom-heated growing tray with a combination of sand and loam, with four parts sand to one part loam. Dampen the soil.

Step 3

Remove 1/4 inch of bark from the cut end of the cutting. Dip the cut end of the cutting into water and then dip it into rooting hormone. Rooting hormone can be purchased at any nursery or most home centers.

Step 4

Use your finger or a pencil to poke a 2- to 2 1/2-inch deep hole into the growing medium and then carefully insert your cutting into the hole, being careful not to dislodge the rooting hormone. Gently press the soil around the base of your cuttings.

Step 5

Mist the cuttings with your misting bottle and then insert the growing tray into a large plastic bag that will act as a mini greenhouse, keeping the cuttings moist. Place the growing tray in a sunny location out of direct sun, and set the heater to keep the growing medium approximately 60 to 65 degrees F.

Step 6

Open the bag daily and mist your cuttings. Watch for any new growth on your cuttings. New growth should appear in approximately eight weeks and indicates that your cuttings have rooted.

Step 7

Wait until all possibility of frost has passed and then plant your desert willow in a semi-sunny location where it can receive adequate moisture. Plant in a hole at least 12 inches deep and 24 inches wide, filled with a combination of garden soil and loam, in a ratio of approximately four parts soil to one part loam.

Things You'll Need

  • First-year cuttings
  • Rooting hormone
  • Bottom-heated growing tray
  • Sand
  • Loam
  • Water
  • Misting bottle
  • Plastic bag


  • The Dirt Doctor: The Desert Willow
  • New Mexico State University: Starting Willow Trees From Stem Cuttings
Keywords: propagate desert willow, starting a desert willow, growing a desert willow

About this Author

Larry Parr has been a full-time professional freelance writer for more than 30 years. For 25 years he wrote cartoons for TV, everything from SMURFS to SPIDER-MAN.