Plant the Desert Willow Tree

Photo credit: Google 

Chilopsis linearis, Desert Willow, Southwest Desert Flora

How to Propagate the Desert Willow Tree (Chilopsis linearis, not a willow tree, Salix)


Desert willow, or desert catalpa, is a member of the trumpet creeper family. The desert willow can reach 30 feet in height with a spread of 25 feet. This is an excellent plant to start from cuttings and grow in your yard, as the flowers are very fragrant. The 1- to 1 1/2-inch flowers are funnel shaped. Desert willows are hardy in zones 6 to 11. The desert willow prefers to grow in full sun and does not require a lot of moisture.

    • 1

      Fill a 2-inch pot with a potting medium comprised of equal parts peat moss and perlite.

    • 2

      Cut off a semi-woody stem from a desert willow tree in May or June. Take a cutting that is 4 to 8 inches long. Semi-woody stems will snap when bent.

    • 3

      Remove the leaves and any buds from the lower portion of the stem. Leave 1 inch of the lower part of the stem bare.

    • 4

      Stick the cut ends of the desert willow into a glass of water. Remove one cutting and shake the water off.

    • 5

      Place the cut, wet end of the desert willow into rooting hormone.

    • 6

      Stick a pencil into the potting medium to make a hole. Place the end with rooting hormone into the hole.

    • 7

      Water the stem cutting to make the potting medium moist. The moist potting medium will help hold the cutting in place.

    • 8

      Cut a piece of thin but strong wire so that when inserted into the pot it will be taller than the cutting. Place the wire close to the middle of the pot.


      Desert Willow
      Photo credit Google : Desert Willow | James Cowlin Photo -×750/Desert-Willow-1.jpg
    • 9

      Place the cutting into a plastic bag. Seal the bag with a twist tie and rest it on top of the wire to help hold the bag up and off the cutting.

    • 10

      Place the pot in a warm, bright place, but not in direct sunlight.

    • 11

      Fill a sprayer bottle with warm water and mist the cutting daily. The potting medium cannot dry out or the cutting will not root. It should take a month or longer for the desert willow to form roots.

    • 12

      Transplant the cutting when roots have formed. To test to see if roots have formed, gently pull on one of the cuttings, but do not pull it out of the medium. If there is resistance, it usually means the cutting has rooted. Fill 4-inch pots with potting soil and transplant the willows into the pots.

    • 13

      Place the pots back in a bright, warm location, making sure to mist the cuttings every day.

    • 14

      Harden the cuttings off by placing them in a shaded place outdoors at least two months before planting them in the fall.


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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