Plant of the Month – September


Desert Willow is not a true willow, but its graceful linear leaves have the appearance of a willow. Despite this tree’s willow-like leaves, its orchid-like flowers show its catalpa origins. This long-blooming, sturdy desert tree attracts hummingbirds to its lovely flowers, and uses very little water in your yard. Our desert tortoise LOVES eating the flowers, which bloom until he returns to his den for hibernation each fall.

Desert Willow, Desert Catalpa
Chilopsis linearis

  • Plant Form: Deciduous tree
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 15-25 ft. tall x 18-20 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (Apr-May), Summer (June-Aug), Fall (Sept-Oct)
  • Native to: California, Arizona, Mexico (below 5000 feet)
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0°F

Desert Willow is a fast-growing, multi-trunked tree or large shrub that twists and leans as it reaches skyward, creating an interesting, open crown in age. Its long, narrow, bright green leaves give a willowy appearance, but this deciduous tree is actually a catalpa. Orchid-like, nectar-rich flowers attract bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, and are followed by long, tan seedpods, which persist on the branches throughout winter dormancy. Ruffled, funnel-shaped flowers range from white to dark pink to burgundy, depending on the cultivar (pale pink in our local natives). Tolerates extreme heat and drought, but appreciates some summer water up to twice monthly. Great for sites where you need summer shade, but want winter sun, such as on a south-facing side of your home. Train into a shade or specimen tree with single or multiple trunks, or direct its growth as a large shrub with many branches as a windbreak, screen, or background planting.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for September