How to Plant a Chitalpa Tree
The chitalpa tree (x Chitalpa tashkentensis) is a hybrid deciduous flowering tree developed in Uzbekistan that grows well in arid climates, though it can be planted elsewhere as long as it is not overwatered. It can be used as a specimen, a street tree or a screen.
The chitalpa tree can survive winters in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 to 9.
Chitalpa Tree Characteristics
The chitalpa tree is a hybrid between two trees in different genera: the Southern catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides, zones 5 to 9), which is the native to the Southeastern U.S., and the desert willow (Chilopsis linearis, zones 7 to 9), which is native to the Southwest.
Chitalpa trees produce racemes of extremely showy, trumpet-shaped flowers that are pink or white and are attractive to hummingbirds and insects. These trees flower in late spring and have an extended bloom time through the summer.
Chitalpa trees are fast growing and have a maximum height of about 25 feet. They can only be propagated by cuttings, as the seeds of this tree are not viable.
Chitalpa Tree Cultivars
One of the most common selections of this tree is known as Pink Dawn (Chitalpa tashkentensis 'Pink Dawn,' zones 6 to 9), which has lavender-pink flowers with yellowish throats.
The Morning Cloud (Chitalpa tashkentensis 'Morning Cloud,' zones 6 to 9) cultivar is another popular option that has flowers that may be paler pink or white.
Chitalpa Tree Site Selection
If you are growing a chitalpa tree in the Eastern U.S., it is important to plant in well-draining soil in order to prevent a condition known as root rot. Other than that, however, this tree can handle many different types of soil, including soils with a slightly acidic or alkaline pH.
As desert plants, chitalpa trees require excellent soil drainage.
The chitalpa tree can be grown in full sun or part shade. Its canopies allow turfgrasses to grow underneath.
Chitalpa Tree Pros and Cons
Chitalpa trees are drought tolerant and are therefore well suited for desert climates. This tree needs regular watering to become established, but it can be watered sparingly once it is established. However, regular watering will result in a more even and attractive canopy.
Water newly planted chitalpa trees regularly until they become established.
Chitalpa trees appreciate feeding with a general-purpose formula in the springtime. Apply fertilizer before new growth appears.
In humid climates, a fungal leaf disease known as powdery mildew can be a problem with chitalpa trees. The Morning Cloud cultivar has shown some resistance to this condition.
- Arizona State University: x Chitalpa tashtenkensis
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Landscape Plants - X Chitalpa tashkentensis, Chitalpa
- Oregon State University: Chitalpa tashkentensis 'Pink Dawn'
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Chilopsis linearis
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Catalpa bignonioides
- Monrovia: Pink Dawn Chitalpa
- Texas Tech University: Chitalpa
- The California Polytechnic State University: Chitalpa
- Missouri Botanical Garden: × Chitalpa tashkentensis
Since beginning her career as a professional journalist in 2007, Nathalie Alonso has covered a myriad of topics, including arts, culture and travel, for newspapers and magazines in New York City. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Columbia University and lives in Queens with her two cats.