Native Arizona Mesquite Trees – growing tips – Velvet mesquite trees, The Tree of Life

Honey and Velvet Mesquite Trees can take the extreme heat and the cold! This tree grows fast.  What is the most common tree of the Desert Southwest?  It is the Mesquite! Like many members of the Legume Family, mesquite trees restore nitrogen to the soil.

Mesquite Tree Arizona
Honey Mesquite Tree

There are 3 common species of NATIVE mesquite trees:  Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens ),  Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), and Velvet Mesquite (Prosopis velutina).

Native Arizona Trees, Mesquite
Native Desert Tree – Honey Mesquite

These native trees are extremely drought tolerant. Honey Mesquites are more rounded with big, floppy, drooping branches.  The foliage is feathery and straight – paired with sharp spines on twigs.

yound mesquite tree
Arizona Native Mesquite Tree

This tree normally reaches 20–30 ft, but can reach as tall as 50 ft (15 m). The growth rate is medium.  Honey mesquite coppices  (it will make new growth from a root or stump if it is cut down), making permanent removal extremely hard.  If a single trunk is cut down the Honey Mesquite will replace it with a multiple trunk version.

Honey Mesquite Tree variety species
Tree with large needles, spikes in Arizona

The Honey Mesquite has pale, yellow, elongated spikes and bears straight, yellow seed bean pods. In this picture you can see how long and strong this mesquite’s spikes are. I’ve learned NOT to wear flip-flops when walking around our Honey Mesquite!

Caring for mesquite trees is a simple process after the tree has fully matured. Mesquite trees need a full day’s worth of direct sun light to grow. Make sure to plant your mesquite tree in a place where it will always have a lot of quality sun.

Good staking is crucial to the mesquite tree, especially in areas with severe summer storms, monsoon season, or high winds.

tree ties for young mesquite
Staking your mesquite trees

The shade from these native Arizona trees create a 10-15 degree cooler temperature!

 Mesquite tree for shade

 

The shortcoming of a Chilean or Honey Mesquite tree is wind damage. Proper staking and proper watering can help you avoid wind damage with your mesquite trees.

staking your tree
staking your honey mesquite tree helps prevent wind damage

Make your Mesquite trees “seek out” water and nutrients by careful arrangement of your irrigation emitters and scheduled DEEP irrigation. This will develop a more dispersed root system and reduces the risk of wind throw.

Pruning will keep your tree from becoming messy, while stimulating new growth on those branches that you pruned. The dead, diseased, broken or weak branches, drain the Mesquite tree’s energy.

Mesquite bean pods are rich in carbohydrates and have very low moisture content, making them an excellent source for harvesting, processing, and storage.  A variety of animals eat the seeds such as quail, dear, javelina, coyotes, squirrels and rats.

Historic records have indicated that almost every part of the mesquite tree has a use. The Pima Indians of southern Arizona referred to the mesquite as the TREE OF LIFE.

mesquite tree seeds bean pods
Mesquite tree leaves and bean pods 

During the inevitable droughts and deprivations of desert frontier days, the mesquite trees served up the primary food source for caravans and settlers.  Mesquite beans became manna from heaven.

Medical studies of mesquite trees and other desert foods, said that despite its sweetness, mesquite flour (made by grinding whole pods) is extremely effective in controlling blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

Mesquite trees have lateral roots that extend far beyond the canopies of the plants and tap-roots that penetrate well below the surface of the soil.  Some mesquites may live for more than two centuries;  according to U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

(Prosopis Velutina) Velvet Mesquite is the most common of the North American varieties, it ranges from southern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and most common to the Chihuahua and Sonoran deserts of Mexico.

Tree with ferny leaves and sharp thorns
Native Desert Trees, Velvet Mesquite Tree

Velvet Mesquite Trees are a deciduous plant that benefits by being able to retain moisture during the winter or exceptionally dry seasons better because water does not escape through the leaves.  These Mesquite trees have elongated bean pods that are sweet to taste when ripe ( reddish-yellow color).   This native tree has thorns with varying lengths even on the same branch.

Mesquite Trees
Velvet Mesquite Trees in Arizona

For the first year,  deeply water your mesquite tree every week or so until it has properly matured. Once your velvet mesquite tree has matured, it can survive with a little supplemental water in addition to natural rain. In case of droughts, do water your mesquite trees more often.

Velvet Mesquites hold the record for deepest root (160′); these tap-roots can tap into deep, underground water supplies that aren’t available to the average plant.

The seeds of mesquite trees need to be scarified (abraded in flash flood or digestive tract) to germinate. Coyotes, and other desert animals eat the bean pods regularly.

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The Thornless Chilean Mesquite is the best tree for Shade

The Shade from this Thornless Chilean MesquiteProsopis chilensis, creates a 10-15 degree cooler temperature in our yard. The dogs use the shade from the Mesquites to stay cool.

Below in the photo is a Hybrid Mesquite that is Thornless, called the Chilean Mesquite. By providing abundant shade, a lush green leaf canopy and graceful fissured brown trunks, Thornless Mesquites are another of the wonderful trees that dispelled the myth that desert landscapes were hot, barren, spiny and uninviting. Chilean or Thornless Mesquite trees are beautiful and one of the best shade trees for your yard.

best shade tree
Our Chilean Mesquite Tree makes the best shade tree

The Thornless (Chilean) Mesquite Tree pictured here is approximately 15 years old.

Shade is a welcome addition to all desert landscapes, xeriscaping, especially in the extreme heat of The Sonoran Desert.  The shade produced by Thornless Hybrid Mesquites, (Chileans) can range from filtered to quite dense which can inhibit the growth and flowering of some under-story plantings.

When deciding where to grow your Mesquite Tree, consider the ultimate shade that can be produced by these trees and how it will affect the growth and flowering of under-story plants. Also note from my experience that any plant, vine, or flower placed too close to the Mesquite will not do well.

chilean mesquite
The Shade from this Mesquite Tree creates a 10-15 degree cooler temperature in our yard.

At maturity, Chilean Mesquites can be up to 30 feet tall and as wide…with dome-shaped, spreading canopies, this Hybrid in the photo below is much taller.  They are cold resistant to 10 to 15 degrees F.  Thornless Mesquites are semi-deciduous, losing  a portion of their leaves in warmer winters in the Phoenix, Arizona and Palm Desert, California areas.

Las Vegas and Tucson, Arizona will have a little more leaf shed due to the lower winter temperatures. Leaves remaining through the winter are shed rapidly in spring just prior to bud break. Mesquite trees are often easily damaged or completely uprooted by the high winds associated with the summer rainy season.  Proper tree staking is essential!!

Below is a picture of our 15 year old Chilean Mesquite Tree, majestic, healthy and strong. This Tree is one of,  if not the tallest Mesquite Tree, or any tree in our area.

huge mesquite shade tree
The Best Shade Tree. The wind was blowing during the photo.

When it comes to shade – this Thornless Mesquite is the perfect tree for shade! It is also loved by the neighborhood birds.

Can you grow Bougainvillea in pots? Growing Mandevilla Vines, Dipladenia in Containers

Why doesn’t my bougainvillea bloom?  Bougainvilleas like their roots to be crowded in a pot. If planted in the ground, the Bougainvillea may not bloom as much. If you want more color in your garden, grow your Bougainvillea in containers!  Its vivid color is formed in the three bracts that surround the little white flower.

mandevilla in a container
Bougainvillea vine in a pot

Bougainvillea does well growing on a trellis.  The 2 vines in the picture are a Bougainvillea vine in a pot next to the Mandevilla Vine growing in another container. I trained both vines to continue growing up the trellis.

do bougainvilleas grow in containers
Bougainvillea growing up the trellis

The pictures of these plants growing on our front porch gives you and idea of how happy the Mandevilla Plant is in the large container and how well the Bougainvillea Bush does in a pot.

Bougainvillea flowering bush shrub
Growing Bougainvillea in large pots

To grow your flowering Bougainvillea shrub/vine choose a very sunny place. Be sure your pots have good holes in the bottom, so you will have good drainage. Fertilize with Hibiscus food as it has more potash than many other fertilizers. Be sure to measure exactly the amount of food according to the size of your pot. Bougainvillea comes from a hot humid climate, and they love the heat!

Be sure the dirt in the pot feels dry before you water your bougainvillea. Water large pots until water runs out the drainage holes in the bottom. There are exceptions to watering and caring for your Bougainvillea. Here in the southern Arizona desert we have had some temperatures above 110 degrees F. When I saw any of our plants wilting, including the Bougainvillea plant and Mandevilla vine I watered them. Being very careful not to get water on the leaves so they do not get burned from the Sun!

The Bougainvillea and Mandevilla vines

The Bougainvillea is climbing up the bamboo sticks to the trellis and combining with the Mandevilla vine.

If you want your Bougainvillea to grow up and not out you must trim/prune the stems that grow outwards. Keep them short around the bottom.

I found that the plants we cut back are growing straight up the bamboo garden stakes, look at the picture of our bougainvillea. The Bougainvilleas I do not prune, have many leaves but fewer blooms, color.

During this winter, both the Mandevilla bush/vine and the drought tolerant shrub, Bougainvillea, did ok. The winter temperatures dropped to the mid 30’s.  I removed all the dead leaves.

mandevilla in containers
bougainvillea and mandevilla vines

Bougainvillea is drought resistant, I do not call it drought tolerant because it is not a desert native plant. Bougainvillea are native to South America. This flowering bush or is heat resistant to the extreme. Probably the best heat resistant desert plant is the Bougainvillea.  Caring for and growing a Bougainvillea takes more effort but it is worth it. Note how short I prune the bottom branches of the Bougainvillea in the front pot.

Growing a Mandevilla – traditionally it is called a Dipladenia, but they are different in how they grow and look. For basic purposes they are vines with the Dipladenia growing better as a shrub or bush and being planted in a container or does well as a hanging plant. The Mandevilla is a climbing vine and does well twining and growing on a trellis.

Mandevilla growing up a trellis
Mandevilla, dipladenia vines in containers

Our Mandevilla Vine prefers part shade. It receives bright light but is also partially protected from rain and the Arizona Monsoon season. It is NOT drought tolerant or drought resistant. But the Mandevilla plant is HEAT RESISTANT. Our Mandevilla is doing incredible and growing well in the pot. Please see the attached photos.

mandevilla growing in a pot
In this picture is a Mandevilla Vine growing on a trellis.

It has bloomed continually most of the year. As far as pruning the Mandevilla Plant. I remove the Mandevilla yellow leaves, and trim a few branches that may have died but that is about it. This Mandevilla vine, bush, plant takes very little pruning. Although it is NOT drought tolerant, it doesn’t seem to have any problems with the desert heat as long as I water it every day. If your Mandevilla vine/bush can be planted in part shade… I would recommend this tropical flowering bush for any garden, from planting in Florida to growing in Texas, Arizona and California.

In this picture, we took 4 large trellises bending the top 2 to form the arch. As the Mandevilla Plant grew I used garden tape and ties to gently connect it to the trellis. The Mandevilla vines grow back and forth along the top of  the trellis giving our desert yard a tropical, lush look.  Our trellises were purchased from Home Depot.  http://www.homedepot.com/

Our Chilean Mesquite Tree provides shade for the mandevilla.

Mandevilla is a genus of plants belonging to the Dogbane (attributed to its toxicity) family. Native to South America. It has about 100 species, mostly tropical and subtropical flowering vines (any plant with a growth habit of climbing, stems or runners).

The Mandevilla flowers come in a variety of colors, including white, pink, yellow, and red. The Hummingbirds and butterflies visit our Mandevilla often.  It is a pollen yielding plant that is fast growing and high flowering. In conclusion, Mandevilla is easy to care for as long as it gets watered regularly, has a trellis to climb on, is in part shade and protected from winds and rain.