The desert willow (Chilopsis linearis) is a deciduous shrub or small tree that features exquisite orchid-like blossoms. This feature can be especially beneficial to add beauty to drought tolerant landscapes.
This shrub is classified as Chilopsis linearis and is the only species found in the genus. It is a member of the Bignoniaceae family. Two other examples are Cape honeysuckle and the southern catalpa. This shrub is able to cross with the Catalpa genus.
This shrub can go by many common names, including desert willow, desert catalpa, desertwillow, bow willow, flowering willow, orchid of the desert, false-willow, flowering-willow, Flor de Mimbre, willowleaf catalpa, mimbre, catalpa willow and jano.
Preferred USDA Hardiness Zones:
For best results, you should plant Chilopsis linearis in Zones 7-9. It originally comes from the southwestern United States and Mexico.
Size & Shape:
The desert willow can be 6-30' tall and 10-25' wide, generally forming into an irregular shape.
The best location for this shrub is one where it will receive full sunlight.
The name desert willow is used because the leaves resemble those of willow trees and shrubs. They are lanceolate and 4-12" in length.
The fragrant flowers are pink or purple with yellow stripes in the throat and are found in clusters called racemes.
The fruit is a dry brown capsule that can be up to a foot long.
The desert willow will attract bees and hummingbirds to your garden.
You can keep the shrub looking tidier and encourage more blossoms to form by deadheading spent flowers.
Chilopsis linearis can be propagated through seeds or cuttings.
You can prune the desert willow into a standard tree form if desired or leave it as a shrub.
Pests and Diseases:
There are not many problems associated with these shrubs. Aphids are sometimes seen. If the soil has poor drainage and is too moist, you may see root rots form. Verticillium wilt may also strike.