Desert Willow: What’s wrong?
Thanks to JoQuita Schremmer for her great question and picture!
She writes that the tree was planted three years ago but has never done well. Last year she cut it down, level to the ground, and although it has since grown quite a bit, it still looks very unhealthy.
Well, JoQuita, my initial thought is that your desert willow doesn’t really look bad at all, so I’m not sure if there are any problems to solve.
But since the photo was taken when the tree was dormant and there aren’t any leaves to look at, I could be missing the symptoms altogether.
In general, desert willow trees do pretty well in our area, but when they don’t, it’s usually down to soil and drainage issues.
Desert willows are not willows at all, and so, they aren’t riparian species. They’re most definitely more at home in arid western regions, where the native soil is sandy and even rocky.
If you’re having an issue with a desert willow, the first thing to check is soil drainage. Desert willows do not like to be waterlogged. If you have clay soil or other permeability issues, you should consider digging up your tree while it’s still relatively young, and building a berm to increase drainage, then replanting it.
Or, if it continues to struggle and you can’t really increase the soil drainage through changing the topography of the landscape, you might need to replace with a different species of tree.
Definitely watch for signs of re-leaf this spring and see how it does before taking any drastic measures.