Xeric and stylish gardening in San Antonio, Texas

Happy Native Plant Week Texans!!! (one week late)

Like many of you out there, I celebrated native plant week here in Texas by buying a whole schwack of plants.

It was high time to “cool off” the southern side of the house (if only in perception) – we now have two desert willow trees! Yay!   I really struggled with this decision almost a year…what to put in this bed tree wise versus whether or not I wanted to put any trees in this bed at all.  Truth is, I like gardening in the sun – so the best of both worlds to me were two desert willows that will provide filtered shade so I can still grow all my sun worshipping plants I adore.  The bottom line after a year of toying around with ideas,  is that the front of the house looks #1 too exposed, and #2 some shade on the south facing part of your home in Texas is a MUST!  Duh!  However, again, I like the fact it will be filtered shade, AND I also like that the thin wispy leaves will still allow you to see the house through them.  In essence, the desert willows are “semi-private” screening trees for the house which currently looks a little ….naked!  Ha!Say hello to my two west Texas native desert willow trees (Chilopsis linearis ‘Bubba’).  If you want to read a little more about this particular cultivar, I found this very helpful.  What was invaluable however, was advice from fellow blogger and online pal, David Cristiani in his post here.  Thanks again for all your help, and answering all my many questions, David!

I planned on the greatest mature size which is SUPPOSED to be 20′ by 20′ (although the tag said max 10-15ft by 10-15ft), mine are spaced 19ft on O/C.  I Really REALLY do not like planting things too close then pruning later – I try HARD to avoid this at all costs.  Let me put it to you this way…I was outside with a tape measure in hand over an hour (EEK) playing around with different placements to get a nice span in between the trees.  Two neighbours came out to talk to me, and I think they were checking to see if I was okay and had not lost my mind.  WHATEVER!  Measure, measure, measure!  I like how the trees almost bisect each side of the house.

The grass in the front border of the middle bed is Texas native gulf muhly.

I just love the foliage of this tree – I am only wishing I had planted them sooner!  What are y’alls experiences with this tree?  Please share – I am all ears….


  1. I like the idea of the sun coming through the willow. The thing I hate about Texas is that “full sun” plants can’t take the Texas full sun. I bet this will let you plant a bunch of new kinds of plants underneath the willow. Good choice :)

    • Thanks Steve – and I TOTALLY hear ya! The sun here tends to torch things! I asked David if my Opuntia would get shaded out! ha! duh. He said they will actually prefer it. Seems these trees always had a place here. Thanks for stopping by today – cheers! – xericstyle

  2. Well-done, and your spacing looks perfect for a front yard! I have a bunch of ‘Bubba’ desert willows on a development in Las Cruces…pretty w/ larger leaves, flowers. Their branching indicates to me how they should stay smaller than typical or large forms. All held up well as a new planting, finished by early summer. Maybe I’ll post on that?

    Just learned another common name for them, at least in Las Vegas…”Wash Willow”!

    • YAY! You approve! Thanks so much David. Wash Willow, eh???? Bizarre how different places not too far apart call plants by different names. I would LOVE to see your Las Cruces planting. PLLLLLlllleeeease! Thank you in advance :) – xericstyle

  3. I think they look fabulous! Good choice. It is nice that you will still be able to see the house after they fill in. I’m sure when they are in full bloom in the summer the neighbors will be asking you what kind of tree they are:)

    • Thank you so much Steph – All this reassurance after a year of going back and forth is validating! I really appreciate you stopping by today. I think you are right about people asking what kind of trees they are – surprisingly there are not a lot of established ones I have seen in San Antonio. Although clearly that is changing as I see more and more new plantings. – xericstyle

  4. They are a pretty tree and since you have plenty of room they work great in your yard. They are deciduous so you will get plenty of warm sun in the windows all winter. I see more Desert Willows planted south of town on both the east and west side.

    • Hey Shirley, thanks so much! I am really excited about them. One of the major factors in this decision was evergreen versus deciduous – I think if they were evergreen they would be about perfect. Although, I do love the winter sun. Time will tell for sure. Thanks for stopping by again, I have missed you. – xericstyle

  5. I have two desert willows, both “Son of Bubba.” One I got in a giant pot for a hundred bucks, and the other I got as a tiny stick in a gallon pot, and I’ve gotta say that this is one tree where buying the large size doesn’t pay off because they grow so fast when they’re happy. I moved mine around a couple of times before finding a spot where they were happy, namely in the full sun front raised bed with excellent drainage. I’m really happy with them– I have opuntia and roses planted under them, and the light shade is perfect, while the trees add some much-needed height & screening to those corners of the front garden.

    • COOOOOOOoooool! Love hearing this, thanks Lori! So how tall/wide are they now and how long did it take for them to get to their current size? I am really excited to finally have some height in the front of the house. I have good drainage, but I would not say excellent drainage, so I have my fingers crossed. Thanks for the information Lori, much appreciated. :) – xericstyle

      • Hmm, I’d guess they’re maybe 8-10 feet tall? And I’d say it took about 2-3 years for both of them. The one in the smaller pot grew a lot faster.

      • Wow that is great news! And in regards to that smaller “stick” as you put it, growing faster – that is just nuts and oh so cool. Thanks again Lori! – xericstyle

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