The Q&A Archives: Desert Ironwood Tree Care

Question: I have been trying to find a picture and care instructions about the desert ironwood tree. Could you help me?

Answer: I love the sculptural look of the multiple trunks of old ironwood trees in the desert! Olneya tesota is best planted in spring because it can be cold sensitive (at about 20 degrees F) and that gives it more time to develop a root system. On the other hand, it takes extreme heat and full sun with very little care and no water once established. However, it will do better in a landscape with periodic deep waterings during hot weather. It needs little pruning except to remove dead branches, etc. One drawback is that it is very slow growing and can take a long time to reach a mature size.

I didn't find a photo online, but the book, "Low Water Use Plants" by Carol Shuler has several photos of this trees. This book is well-known and should be available at your library or bookstore.

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