Desert Willow, Desert Catalpa
Deciduous, Shrubs, Trees
Native to Southwest desert washes below 5,000 ft., desert willow grows to 15–30 ft. tall and 10–20 ft. wide; it grows fast at first (as much as 3 ft. in a season), then slows. With age, develops shaggy bark and twisting trunks. Narrow, willow-type leaves are 2–5 in. long. Spring to fall, produces fragrant trumpet-shaped blossoms with crimped lobes, similar to those of catalpa; blooms are like small cattleya orchids and attract hummingbirds. Flower color varies among seedlings—may be reddish purple, lavender, rose, pink, or white, often marked with purple and gold. Nurseries select for good color, large size, ruffled form.
Gallon-size plants can bloom the first year. Drops leaves early; holds a heavy crop of catalpa-like seedpods through winter and can look messy. Thin growth to enhance picturesque shape.
‘Art’s Seedless’. Sterile flowers produce no seedpods.
‘AZT Desert Amethyst’. All-purple flowers; grows to 15–30 ft. tall and wide.
‘Bubba’. Lavender and purple summer–fall flowers; grows to 20 ft.
‘Burgundy’ (‘Burgundy Lace’). Deep purplish red flowers.
‘Hope’. White flowers with a pale yellow throat. Wispy, open growth.
‘Lois Adams’. Profuse two-tone blooms in pale lavender and magenta; no seedpods. Compact, upright growth.
‘Lucretia Hamilton’. Dark purple flowers in large clusters. Grows to 15–18 ft. tall and wide.
‘Regal’. Combination of lavender and wine red; flat-faced, open-throated blooms make a great display.
‘Timeless Beauty’. Long season of two-toned lavender and burgundy blooms; no seedpods. Grows to 15–20 ft. tall and wide.
‘Warren Jones’. Large, ruffled blossoms in pure, unshaded pink with a paler throat. Holds leaves long; evergreen in warm-winter climates.
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