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How to Care for a Desert Willow Tree

By Amma Marfo ; Updated September 21, 2017

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

 

Things You Will Need

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

Tip

  • When temperatures reach over 90 degrees and stay there, and your tree is not yet at its desired height, it is best to water up to 2 or 3 feet deep every 2 weeks to support the still growing plant.

Warning

  • 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.