Thinking of creating a small, shady oasis in the middle of your drought-tolerant garden? Chilopsis ‘Bubba’ might just be the tree you are looking for!
Desert Willows are native to desert washes throughout the southwestern US and northern Mexico. Despite its common name, Desert Willow is not actually a willow (its closely related to Trumpet Vine and Jacaranda), but its long, narrow, dark green leaves are reminiscent of willow leaves. ‘Bubba’ has large, fragrant pinkish-purple flowers that begin blooming in early summer (ours are blooming now) and last well into fall. These plants really come into their own during our summer heat, when other plants start to slow down.
‘Bubba’ is a small (15’ by 15’), fast growing tree with an open growth habit and attractively textured bark. It prefers a hot, sunny location and is hardy to at least Zone 7. We have seen it growing at the Denver Botanic Garden though, so we’re assuming that mature trees can withstand even colder temperatures. Plants are quite drought-tolerant once established, but will also tolerate deep, infrequent summer watering. They do need well-drained soil. If you have clay soil in your yard, consider planting it on a mound or a berm.
‘Bubba’ combines beautifully with other drought-tolerant, heat loving plants like Oenothera, the Salvia ‘Mirage’ series, Callirhoe, Penstemon pinifolius, Zauschneria, Monardella, Hesperaloe, and Perovskia to create a vibrant, colorful garden that really shines during the heat of summer. Even better, think about placing a bench under your Desert Willow, so you can enjoy its dappled shade and watch the hummingbirds and other native pollinators that flock to your mini-oasis!