Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) is a native tree with showy, nectar-rich flowers that attract hummingbirds. Its small size allows it to fit easily into smaller yards and under power lines. Excellent for rain gardens, the plants are equally comfortable standing in water for a few days or sitting bone dry for weeks on end.
'Conchas Dam Pink,' 'Hope' and 'Lucretia Hamilton' Desert Willow are cold hardy into zone 5.
Lucretia Hamilton'™ with lovely, burgundy flowers is equally cold hardy and a compact grower for patios and tight spaces.
Our Desert Willow selections are very cold tolerant, but they are best grown in the West, Southwest, southern Great Plains and Texas, in areas with good summer heat (temperatures in the 90s °F or higher). Chilopsis is worth trying in the mid-Atlantic states in very fast draining, sandy soil. It is not suitable for the Mid-West or Northeastern US.
To get established in USDA zones 5 & 6, they must be planted in spring or early summer, not in the fall. Protect your new plants over their first winter or two in your garden. Cover each plant with a generous pile of clean straw or pine needles. This allows the plant's crown (junction of root and branches) to mature and obtain maximum cold hardiness.
In zone 5 climates (edge of their cold hardiness): plant them in a wide, shallow depression that will fill in with soil after a few seasons. This increases their cold hardiness by gradually sinking the crown more deeply into the soil.
Pruning: In zones 8-10, winter is an excellent time to prune because there will not be any winter die back. In colder regions (zones 5-7), Chilopsis will sometimes have some winter kill and its best to let the plant leaf out (typically in late spring) and remove any winter damaged branches that don't leaf out; then thinning of cross branches and shaping can be done. Rarely Chilopsis will freeze back to the ground. If this occurs, it's best to let the plant re-sprout from the roots before pruning off dead branches.
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