Desert Willow Growth Rate – Is It The Same As True Willows?

These low maintenance fast-growing trees should be on your radar

Desert Willows Grow

Laurentiu Marin/Vadim Malinovskiy/nturbalev/gettyimages

Botanically known as Chilopsis linearis, Desert Willow is not a true willow. It belongs to the Bignonia family and has no relation to the Weeping Willow. Moreover, its slender, long weeping leaves make it a better substitute than the typical willows for the climates in the arid southwestern region.


You must probably be here, looking for how fast do desert willows grow?


To tell you the gist, desert willows are fast growing with an annual growth of 2-3 feet. They are a prevalent landscape specimen, and many of their cultivators have also been developed. They are native to the west of California, central Texas, and south of Mexico.

In This Article


About the Desert Willow

Botanical Name Chilopsis linearis
Family Name Bignoniaceae
Plant Type Deciduous Shrub
Mature Size 12-18 ft. tall -12-18 ft. wide
Bloom time May to June
Hardiness Zones USDA zones six through nine
Native The Southwestern United States and Mexico


A beloved tree in Texas, Desert Willow can withstand all the heat Texas has to offer. It has narrow, long leaves and orchid-like, fragrant purple to pink flowers that hang in clusters of five or more. The flowers bloom from April to late summer and are adored by butterflies and hummingbirds.


Though they grow well in areas exposed to heavy rainfall, you must plant them in raised beds.  They are fast-growing trees. But as with typical fast-growing trees, even these have a short life span.


They have multiple trunks, but you can prune them to a single trunk specimen or a small shrub. Since it lacks thorns and does not have invasive roots, you can plant them closer to the pavement and walls, and they will not cause any structural damage.

How Fast Does A Desert Willow Tree Grow?

Desert willow is fast-growing. Ideally, it can grow between two to three feet annually and a maximum of 30 feet. Upon maturity, the plant has a height between 15-25 feet with an equal spread, giving it a beautiful shape.


What Stunts The Growth Of Desert Willow?

We have established how fast do desert willows grow, but can something even curtail its growth? Well, yes. There are some diseases and conditions that can affect this ornamental plant. Below, we will discuss them:


A. Verticillium Wilt

Even though these fungi attack the young or wounded desert willow roots in colder spring conditions, their symptoms may not show until late or mid-summer. The fungus travels through the plant’s moisture-conducting vascular tissues and transfers the toxins with it, resulting in yellowing or stunted desert willow growth rate. Affected leaves are also susceptible to burning.


Sadly, this fungal attack may be lethal, and there’s no cure. Please exercise caution and care to reduce the symptoms and take measures to amplify the lifespan of the affected plant with proper fertilization and watering to boost new growth by pruning all the dead branches.

B. Phyllosticta leaf spot infection

These appear on the plant in the form of round-to-oval, tiny flecks ranging from gray or tan to dark-brown or black. Its small spore-producing black bodies pepper the spots, and with the disease progression, they only expand. At times they may merge or even tear loose, appearing unsightly.


Severe infection might result in premature drop or yellowing in the leaves. Such leaves do not grow further. Thus, to ensure that the plant continues to grow, you should consider eliminating these leaves from the plant.

C. Damping-Off Disease

Desert willows growing from seeds may also develop Rhizoctonia or Pythium damping-off, resulting in symptoms like decaying shoots and seeds. It may also impact how fast do desert willow trees grow, and the newly popped seedling might undergo stem collapse.


The risk of damping-off is highest in cold, wet, and poorly-draining soils. To prevent this, you must plant desert willows in quickly-draining and loose soil.


How Long Do Desert Willow Trees Take To Grow And Mature?

The desert willow growth rate is between two and three feet per year, and its mature size is between twelve and eighteen feet. Thus, we believe that it takes the plant anywhere between six and nine years to reach maturity.


Since desert willows aren’t true willow trees, you might want to catch up on some true Willow tree varieties.

How To Care For Desert Willow To Make It Grow Faster?

How well and quick desert willows grow depends on how well you care for the plant. So, while improper care stunts the growth, proper care can help the plant grow faster. Below are some care measures that can help with the growth rate.


A. Sunlight

In their native habitat, desert willow receives ample sunlight. Thus, it grows and thrives in areas where it receives full sun. Indoors or outdoors, if you want to achieve excellent bloom production, you should place the desert willows where it receives at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. If the plant does not receive ample sunlight, you may experience a decline in its blooms.


B. Water

Once established, the desert willows can tolerate drought conditions. But, for the initial three to four years, you must frequently water the plant for a good desert willow growth rate. The plants enjoy deep watering as it stimulates extensive root growth and does not let the surface dry or cause concerns like powdery mildew.


As a general rule of thumb, water the desert willow at least once a month during the summer and spring. Later for desert willow trees in winter, you can bring down the watering schedule to once every six weeks.



C. Soil

Desert willow can grow in dry to medium well-draining moisture soil with a slightly high pH. After the desert willow is established, it becomes more adaptable and can self-accommodate in various soil conditions. But, if the soil is acidic, you can add lime to the planting hole. It can help the plant with its growth.


D. Fertilizer

Desert willows are not heavy feeders. They demand little fertilization. So, if you choose to fertilize, you can opt for a high phosphorous 10-30-10, balanced 20-20-20, or a low nitrogen fertilizer in early spring before the emergence of the new growth.


After six months, you can reapply the fertilizer during active growth months. After the next three months, you can reapply. That’s all of the fertilizer a desert willow demands to reach maturity. But, if you have an older plant, its fertilization needs may be more frequent, especially during the growing season.


E. Temperature

Desert willow growth rate thrives in dry or hot conditions, but it does even better in climates that mimic its native landscape. You can use soilless, boulders, pavers, and stone for the same. But, desert willows cannot grow in USDA hardiness region seven.


The Good and Bad of Desert Willow Trees

Here is a list of pros and cons for desert willows.



  1. It is an ornamental plant that is extremely drought tolerant.
  2. The plant demands little care.
  3. They are fast-growing
  4. It attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, etc. Amazing way to enhance your surroundings
  5. Its roots prevent erosion



  1. It gets messy around the areas it is planted because of seeds and droppings.
  2. They have a short lifespan.


Before we conclude with our FAQs, here some more interesting reads for you on willow tree lifespan and growth rate.


Frequently Asked Questions

Ques 1. Do desert willow trees have invasive roots?

Ans. Since desert willow trees have deep tap roots, hence, they are not invasive.


Ques 2. Does a desert willow need a lot of water?

Ans. Desert willow is tolerant of cold, wind, heat, and drought. But, once it becomes established, it can survive merely on rainfall. But, deep watering during the hot summers every once in 30 days can keep the plant thriving.


Ques 3. What is the lifespan of a desert willow tree?

Ans. As per the USDA Forest Service, Desert willows can live up to a 100 years.

Final Word

So, now that we have all the information associated with how fast does a desert willow tree grow at our fingertips, let us embrace gardening!