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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Considering Growing Tipu in the Eastern Mojave Desert?

Tipu tree growing in Las Vegas. Will we get winter temps below 25F? Plant this tree and you are betting we wont.

Q. I have been wanting to plant a tipuana tree since I saw one in person (those pinnate leaves are gorgeous!) and I love the idea of a wide canopy.  You mentioned in a December 2013 blog that here the potential for damage from the roots would not be as concerning in Las Vegas as in other places as long as it was planted “several feet away from foundations, etc.” The location where I would like to plant is between the pool and the block wall.  The wall and the pool are separated by 19 feet.  Would planting 4 feet from the wall and 15 feet from the pool be reasonably safe? I have citrus, duranta repens, and some other cold sensitive plants that I dress in old school Christmas lights and wrap in frost cloth, so I understand it will take extra work to protect from the cold.  What do you think of my chances for success? I do love the leaves, though. Maybe I can talk myself into a purple robe locust instead. 

A.  Just to be a little more clear than the section you read in my article. I am not a big fan of this tree but it has been pushed for planting in the Las Vegas area by a local nursery. You should read some of the comments from Arizona State University (Mesa, AZ) about its use in Phoenix. 
Winter dieback of tipu in Las Vegas.

Comments about Tipu tree from ASU

I am always seeing the downside of plants because I get hit with problems all the time. The Purple Robe Locust is a good tree. It is also not desert adapted but it can handle the low temperatures with no problems.

But it should be grown with woodchips as a mulch and use compost mixed in the planting soil at planting time. It is a medium water user and it will get about 35 feet tall and oval to round in shape. It is not a fast grower, not slow either but about 12 to 18 inches per year if you fertilize and water it well.

Avoid putting it in very hot locations with lots of direct sunlight beating down on its trunk and limbs. Keep it full and keep the lower limbs shading the trunk as long as possible. Surround it with lots of other plants that like a similar irrigation.
Texas Mountain Laurel in Las Vegas. Can have a spring insect problem but easily controlled.

Consider Texas Mountain Laurel, Texas Olive, Desert Museum palo verde, Red Push Pistache, etc. Even ornamental pear aka Callery pear. A better fit for our climate. All trees have problems but these would have fewer tree life threatening problems.

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