Cottonless cottonwoods?

miquel23(arizona)June 23, 2005


I just purchased 5 acres in the Queen Creek area and am wanting to plant some nice shade trees for my horses. I have been told that Cottonwoods take too much water and that I should plant poplars. Is this true? Do poplars take less water? Do they look like cottonwoods? Any other suggestions for a fast growing shade tree?

OH--I irrigate every other weekend. Is that enough for cottonwoods?


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judy_b(AZ zone 9)

Cottonwoods are poplars. Cottonless ones are the gender that doesn't make little seeds. Poplars (cottonwoods) are thirsty trees and are prone to opportunistic problems from being stressed by heat and low water. I suggest using a native tree. Palo verdes and mesquites are both fast growers with sufficient water and make nice filtered shade.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 5:21PM
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birdlady_in_mesa(z9 AZ)

I agree with Judy, the palo verdes and mesquite grow very quickly. The palo brea has a lovely trunk and branch form and color. You don't truly want deep shade, believe me. I have very little bright shade and not too much sun. Which some people think is lovely this time of year, but has its drawbacks. I have plants that just don't get enough sun and get long and gangly reaching for some. Now I love my trees alot, don't get me wrong, but if I had to do it over again, I would have the nice shady ones in the back yard and a palo brea and a mesquite out front. During the winter, when the trees are naked, it is wonderful. It is nice to have all that lovely shade in the summer to help keep the overall temps in the yard lower and create my own micro-climate. But- the lack of filtered sun has a large impact on the types of plants I can grow in the summer.

My .02

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 10:20PM
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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

Excellent advice.

Mesquites are your best bet, in my opinion. Denser shade than most desert trees (that the horses might need,) will grow in proportion to the amount of water they get and not rot out like some of the other desert trees. I'd also look into some of the Eucalyptus trees - the E. papuana is one that they grow on the sides of the expressways, tall with pure white trunks - lovely.

Any of the trees with large, thin leaves are naturals for higher water environments - Cottonwoods, Ash, etc are native to streambeds, if that gives you any indication.

And the horses will like the Mesquite bean pods - they're slightly sweet...


    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 11:52PM
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Do you have an irrigated lot down there in Queen Creek? If so, that greatly expands your choices. Cottonwoods will do well if you have flood irrigation, if not then it becomes an uphill battle that only gets more difficult the larger the tree gets. Eucalyptus do very well and are traditional trees for ranches. The silver dollar eucalyptus are one of the most tough and provide a lot of shade. Aleppo pines are also fast growing, drought resistant and provide a lot of shade as well.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2005 at 12:39AM
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Easygoing(Sunset zone 13)


I'm so jealous! 5 acres! Do you know how many roses I could plant if I had 5 acres!!! ;) It would be an aboretum like none other! ;)


    Bookmark   June 24, 2005 at 11:14AM
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Another tree you could try is the Sissoo (Dalbergia sissoo). It looks similar to a cottonwood, but is considered low water use. It will even trive in flood irrigation.

I would use caution with mesquites if they are planted close to where horses have access to the pods. When consumed in hign numbers they expand and have been known to cause colic.

Regardless of what trees you choose you will need to use sturdy fencing around them to protect from hungry horses. They are almost like beavers when it comes to stripping bark and leaves.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2005 at 3:49PM
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judy_b(AZ zone 9)

The problem I found with the Silver Dollar Euc is that it drops branches quite gratuitously. I wouldn't want them for shade, it would be a bit chancy to stand under them.

I have a Sissoo tree and am very pleased with it. The animals give themselves generous portions of it if allowed, though. Fences make good neighbors for growing trees and horses. ;-)

    Bookmark   June 24, 2005 at 3:57PM
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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

Ooops- glad another horse owner saw my post. Sorry - I didn't know they (Mesquite pods) could cause problems. I take it back!

>pagancat, slinking away with red cheeks...

    Bookmark   June 24, 2005 at 11:11PM
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