Issue: June 4, 2005

Making tree-like desert willow | Daffodil transplanting

Making tree-like desert willow


My desert willow is more shrub-like than tree-like. I would prefer it to have only one or a few trunks and look more like a tree. What can I do?


You can prune the lower branches that develop at ground level to develop the form of the tree that you want. Carefully select the branches that you will leave to form trunks. Choose the larger basal branches to form the trunks and remove the others. If there are a large number of branches to remove, you may remove them over a period of two or three years to minimize damage by overpruning.

After removing the basal branches, you will notice many new sprouts developing from latent buds near the point of the pruning cut. Remove these as soon as they appear. Such sprouts can be easily removed by pulling them from the trunk while they are still green and tender. By removing them in this manner rather than cutting them, you will remove latent buds at the base of the new sprout, preventing their growth later.

If you delay until the sprouts have begun to mature, you will need to remove them by cutting them from the base of the tree. This will leave some latent buds that you may need to remove later. As the tree ages and the trunks you have selected increase in size, there should be a decrease in sprout formation at the base of the tree and your work will be reduced.

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Daffodil transplanting


My daffodils have finished blooming and the leaves have turned yellow. Is it essential that I dig them up and store them in the refrigerator before planting them again?


You can leave them in the ground until the cluster of bulbs becomes too dense and flowering decreases. At that time, you can dig them and immediately replant them in a newly prepared planting bed. It is also possible for you to store them in a cool place where they will not desiccate during storage to wait until fall to replant them in a properly prepared planting bed.

Whether you choose to replant the daffodils immediately or wait, you should prepare the planting site by loosening the soil deeply while working in some well-prepared compost. Addition of phosphate fertilizer at this time will also benefit growth and flower production of the daffodils.

If you leave the daffodils in the ground or replant them immediately, remember that they need a little water throughout the summer but do not need to be keep constantly soggy. Many bulb plants make excellent plants for xeriscapes because they can be allowed to become fairly dry during the summer.

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Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email:, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms and the NMSU Horticulture Publications page.

Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden - Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at, or at the Desert Blooms Facebook.

Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!