Friday, March 11, 2011


I'm sorry.....I just had to!!  Why would you attempt a Jacaranda in the city of Tucson?  They are messy and unattractive for several months out of the year!!!  And a severe frost can kill them!!  Look at the pic above from the fern garden of El Presidio Garden.  If the purple flowers don't grab your attention, then check out the green ferny leaves next to the flowers.  People often call this a messy tree and if we have frost, it can be very messy, but the color and green it adds to the garden is wonderful.  I have to share with you that I have a bias with this particular tree.  I've planted 3....and not just for me.  Several homeowners saw my 3 year old Jac in the fern garden and wanted to have this tree placed in the tropical fruit I did.  Be aware Tucson Gardeners that this tree is like playing the may lose or you may win. The odds side towards the winning....most of the time.  Does Tucson have old Jacaranda trees?  Yes.  Where are they?  Most are located downtown and in Midtown, like El Presidio Gardens.  My neighbor has a HUGE Jacaranda tree that is around 2-3 stories high. Look at the pic below taken in Oaxaca, Mexico.....

I love this tree, and it is frost sensitive here in the city.  Younger trees can be killed from extreme frost so protect them on those cold nights.  It's a fast grower and has a beautiful canopy structure.  It, like most plants, takes a bit of water to establish, but is a drought tolerate plant.  This tree craves and thrives from the strong Tucson you must place it in a Southern or Western exposure.  If you place it in the Western exposure, be sure to have some shade cloth for the first year.  Here's some information to consider before purchasing this plant.

  1. Beautiful green ferny plant
  2. Has lovely lavender flowers in Spring
  3. Drought tolerant once established
  4. Fast grower...and I do mean fast.
  5. Wonderful open canopy that should not be pruned
  1. If there is a severe frost, the tree will dry up and turn yellow losing its' leaves and branches which can create a mess.  Some winters are warmer than others and it reflects on the number of branches that fall.  Last year, the tree was green for most of the year.  This year, the tree is bare from our extreme frost.
  2. It can be messy in winter.
  3. Large tree and not for a small space.
  4. Roots can be aggressive

Finally, my larger tree suffered extreme frost damage this year.  Temps were below 25 degrees for more than several hours and this occurred over a several day period.  The question is, will the tree rebound from this devastating blow?  Here are two responses.  Yes.  But the answer,"yes" carries different meanings.  The first one is that the tree will resume as it has before.  I checked the branches and they bend and have green beneath the bark.  But my tree also leaked sap from the trunk....and I've never seen this before which means that maybe the entire tree is dead. However, I will remain optimistic.  The second "yes" will be the more disappointing answer.  The tree itself was killed, but the roots were still alive, and therefore it will probably create new shoots from the base of the tree....essentially starting over again.  Here's my thought about successfully growing this tree.....put it in a warm sunny location and if you have a courtyard, place this tree inside.  My neighbor also suffered the same affects with his much older Jac(which is in a courtyard) and he told me to leave it and see what happens.  Both of us are crossing our fingers that our trees will show signs of growth at the end of March/beginning of April.  This is a risky tree to plant in Tucson so if you are looking for native trees that are reliable, this is NOT the tree to plant.  If you are a gardener, who doesn't mind taking a risk, then try this incredible tree out.  I do not recommend anyone who lives near outlying washes to plant this tree.  It's too cold in these areas from the mountain's cold air that pushes down the canyons into our Tucson washes during the winter.  Your areas are much colder than the microclimate of the midtown and downtown area.  I'll let everyone know what happens with my tree this Spring.  I'll write more on some native trees that are low maintenance for your yards and better suited for the Tucson garden tomorrow. So for you native species experts, I'll do my part on reporting about natives in our area:) Until next time......

1 comment:

  1. Good news to report. After severe week freeze, new leaves have formed on 3/20/11 at 11:00 AM at mid trunk level. Tree is not lost.


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