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How to Plant a Desert Willow

By Sarah Terry ; Updated September 21, 2017

The desert willow (Chilopsis linearis) is a small shrub-like tree that grows up to 20 feet tall and wide with a 6-inch-diameter trunk. Desert willows are not true members of the willow family. The desert willow blooms in white, pink or purple flowers in the spring and throughout the summer. The flowers have a pleasing scent, are tube-like or funnel-shaped and grow to about 1-¼ inches long. Native to Northern Mexico and the Southwestern United States, the desert willow is a deciduous tree that is hardy to 10 degrees F.

Plant the desert willow in full to partial sunlight and in well-draining soil. Plant it in the spring, after all chance of frost has passed.

Dig a planting hole for the desert willow tree that is the same depth as and twice the width of the root ball or nursery container. Mix coarse sand into the displaced dirt if your soil is heavier.

Plant the desert willow at the same depth as it was in the nursery container, or so that the top of the root ball is about 2 inches below the soil surface.

Water the desert willow tree deeply once every five to seven days during the first year. Water the tree to soak the soil down to and around the entire root area.


Things You Will Need

  • Desert willow tree
  • Shovel
  • Coarse sand (optional)
  • Garden hose
  • Organic compost (optional)


  • After the first year, reduce the watering frequency of the desert willow tree to once every two weeks throughout the summer and once each month during the winter.


  • Don't plant a desert willow in compacted or hard clay soil. Ensure that the soil can drain freely, and work into the soil some organic compost if the soil is nutrient-poor.

About the Author


Sarah Terry brings over 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.