5 Most Common Desert Willow Tree Problems And Solutions

Gardeners adore the desert willow tree for its grace and beauty and the peace it exudes. Although this tough tree is resistant to most deadly illnesses, it can be prone to several minor fungal diseases and may experience difficulties.

Luckily, we've extensively researched this topic and have the answers below!

This hardy, beautiful ornamental tree can be afflicted by a few illnesses that can be problematic. They typically include:

  1. Diseases on leaves
  2. Dumping-off disease
  3. Verticillium wilt
  4. Pest problem
  5. Myrtle rust

Due to its advantages, having a desert willow tree in your yard is a wonderful idea. To keep your desert willow tree flowering and to flourish healthily all year long, understand how to care for it. Continue reading to learn how to avoid the issues stated above!

Desert willow blossom close up, 5 Most Common Desert Willow Tree Problems And Solutions

Problems With Desert Willow Trees And Their Solutions

Any plant or tree will have issues, whether you like it or not. Even if it doesn't happen frequently or seldom, it is still possible that your tree could encounter problems.

Desert willow (Chilopsis linearis)

Thankfully, there are strategies to shield your desert willow tree from its typical issues. Here are some recommendations along with issues your tree might need/experience below:

1.) Diseases On Leaves

The two diseases below are the most common problem you can see on the desert willow tree's leaves.

  • Leaf Blight Disease

The leaf blight infects the stems and leaves of the desert willow. This blight sickness begins to spread when the weather is damp and humid. The minuscule fungus spores are dispersed over onto trees by rainfall and wind.

Little, water-soaked patches that eventually turn red-brown appear on the infected leaves of the desert willow. Spots multiply as the illness progresses, leading to necrotic, leaf dying, and yellowing leaves.

  • Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is another affliction of leaves. It is a foliar illness that starts as a cosmetic disease. Those tiny fungus spores congregate on the leaves of the desert willow throughout warm, rainy seasons.

White patches begin to appear on infected foliage.

This mildew forms as these fungi patches start to assemble. Foliage that has been seriously contaminated gradually dies and produces brown patches. Another possibility is severe defoliation.


By removing too much moisture on leaves, both of these illnesses are easily managed. This disease responds well to treatments with copper and fungicides derived from chlorothalonil.

Check out this copper fungicide on Amazon.

2.) Dumping-Off Disease

Desert Willow Blooms, Canyon, Texas

Growing from seeds, desert willows are susceptible to Rhizoctonia damping-off. Decomposing seeds and shoots are indications.

The stems of seedlings that are just emerging may disintegrate.

The largest danger of this kind of disease is associated with old seeds sown too deeply and seeds placed in moist, cold, slowly draining soils.


Refrain from overwatering. Place seedlings sufficiently far apart to allow for adequate ventilation once they are big enough but just too thin.

When desert willow seeds are planted in soil that drains rapidly and is loose, damping-off in the germination process is reduced.

Warm soils promote faster growth than colder ones; as seedlings progress, they become resistant to disease.

3.) Verticillium Wilt

Desert Willow Flower of the Desert Willow Tree with Ruby Throated Hummingbird Hovering Nearby

The soil-borne verticillium wilt fungus usually targets damaged or immature roots of desert willows in the cool springtime. It's possible that disease symptoms won't appear until the middle or end of summer.

As it travels via the vascular tissues of such trees, which conduct moisture, the fungus spreads its toxic effects far beyond its initial place of entrance.

Trees with the persistent disease have yellowing, withered leaves that are vulnerable to scorching.

They frequently suffer from sudden branch wilting. Trees experiencing serious infections have drooping, dead limbs and withered, twisted leaves with yellow or crimson discoloration along their veins.

Signs frequently appear on one side of a tree. Verticillium wilt, the most severe ailment of desert willow, may be fatal.


Verticillium wilt has no known treatment, but care and attention could lessen the signs and lengthen the longevity of a freshly afflicted desert willow.

  • Applying the right amount of fertilizer and water will create healthier regeneration. Once used at the manufacturers' advised rate, fertilizer with much more potassium than nitrogen aids the tree in fighting disease.
  • Damaged branches can be removed to reduce potential risks and enhance the tree's beauty.
  • Before planting a replacement tree in the place of a chronically ill tree, take soil solarization into account. Verticillium fungi are less prevalent in the soil when the planting area is solarized, which involves shielding it with transparent plastic sheeting during the hottest summer.

4.) Pest Problem

Although desert willow trees are resistant to pests and diseases, issues can occasionally arise.

The flathead borer is one insect that infects these trees. Keep a lookout for borers behind the bark because that's where they'll lurk and cause harm.

Root "Mealybug" and "Thrips Palmi" are two of the other most prevalent insect issues.

They result in entanglement around the trunk and the fading of the leaves. It is advisable to use systemic insecticides when treating desert willow trees.


Use pesticides and horticulture oils to clear such pests, particularly in places with heavy infestations. It can be sprayed in the late winter to prevent insect larvae start developing.

Consequently, there are fewer pests during the summer and spring months. To reduce the insect population, carry out this early each spring.

Nevertheless, it is suggested that you get assistance from your local extension office.

View this horticulture and dormant oil on Amazon.

5.) Myrtle Rust

Symptoms will be its lower leaf surfaces will have an egg-yolk yellow-like color or lemon-yellow-like color patches, and later in the season, the bumps turn dark.

If the condition is serious enough, leaves could fall off. Rust infestations are not considered dangerous, although they can severely defoliate young trees.

If myrtle rust is present on the premises, begin treatment as quickly as possible.

Do not handle, transfer, or gather any parts of suspicious plants or the infected part of your desert willow tree.  After handling suspected myrtle rust, you must not venture to another area of your garden or onto the other property.


To control this, here are some steps to consider:

  • Take out and discard any diseased plant or infected parts by pruning them. The part that is infected should be eliminated and thrown away in a manner that limits the spreading of myrtle rust.
  • Spray the infected and undamaged part plant with a fungicide four days before pruning.  If fungicide application is not practicable, gently moisten the plant's prior removal to dampen any spores that may be distributed during extraction. 


Before being either pruned or plucked, little plants or those parts being pruned must be placed in a trash bag. For plants in pots, the entire plant and its pot must be put inside the bag before it is closed.

It is possible to break larger plants into smaller parts and secure them using black plastic or anything similar if they don't fit in trash cans.

Furthermore, you also want to avoid mulching with diseased plants.

Additional Care Guide For Desert Willow Trees

When caring for desert willow trees, other guidelines must be followed. Desert willow trees can be planted in either full or partial shade. Although it may grow in various soil types, it prefers well-draining soil.

Water willow trees deeply every five to seven days for the first year. In the summer and winter, irrigation waters well-established desert willow trees every two weeks.

To repair winter damage, prune when the leaves appear in the spring. Only the lowest limbs should be pruned each spring until the tree reaches the desired height if you wish to maintain a single trunk.

Most desert willow trees yield seedpods that can be safely plucked whenever desired. The desert willow tree is immune to pests and illnesses.

What Are The Different Desert Willow Tree Varieties?

Desert willow blossom close up

Desert willow comes in a wide range of varieties, some of which are more distinctive than others.

Any huge shrub will look lovely because they all have the propensity to be so. If you're looking for bold hues, check out the recommendations below.

Warren Jones Dessert Willow

This desert willow seedling was given its 'Warren Jones' name in recognition of the person who chose it out of the wilderness. In contrast to the earlier species, this variety flowers quite swiftly and keeps its leaves longer than its relatives during the winter.

It generates a sizable amount of pink, spectacular, delicate flowers throughout the summer. Long, tenacious seed pods with tiny openings accompany flowers.

Dwarf Desert Willow

One of the tiniest woody plants worldwide is the dwarf willow or Salix herbacea. It typically barely reaches a height of 1 to 6 centimeters. It is 1 to 2 centimeters tall, 1 centimeter wide, and has spherical, glossy green leaves.

The dwarf willow bears male and female catkins on different plants, like all other Salix species. Compared to yellow male catkins, female catkins are red.

Lucretia Hamilton Desert Willow

The ideal desert willow for luring hummingbirds to porches and tiny yards is Lucretia Hamilton.

This variety, which has a naturally compacted growth habit, provides a continuous summer flowering display of gorgeous burgundy blooms.

Furthermore, when positioned against walls and fences in the winter and early spring, the highly textured branching of this plant forms a charming focal point.

To Finish

You must not overwater a desert willow, whether growing or already having one.

There are several illnesses, and each has its signs, symptoms, and causes. Consulting a botanist is always a smart idea when you notice that your plant is behaving oddly.

And while we have your attention, check out these helpful related articles below:

How Fast Do Desert Willows Grow [And How Tall And Wide Do They Get]?

How To Bonsai A Desert Willow [And How To Care For It]

One comment

  1. My desert willow I planted 7 months ago in Tucson AZ has tan(brownish tips at the end of most small branches.Cause?Is this normal?Remedy?

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