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Can You Root A Pussy Willow Branch: Growing Cuttings From Pussy Willow

Can You Root A Pussy Willow Branch: Growing Cuttings From Pussy Willow


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By: Liz Baessler

Pussy willows are some of the best plants you can have in cold climates because they’re virtually the first to wake up from their winter dormancy. Putting out soft, downy buds followed by bright, almost caterpillar-like catkins, they bring much needed early life and color to their native regions of Canada and Eastern United States. But can you root a pussy willow branch? Keep reading to learn more about pussy willow propagation, particularly how to grow pussy willow from cuttings.

Can You Root a Pussy Willow Branch?

Growing cuttings from pussy willow trees is actually one of the easiest propagation methods out there. Willow trees, pussy willows included, contain a natural rooting hormone. In the past they were frequently steeped in water to make a “pussy willow tea” that was then used to encourage other cuttings to develop roots. This method is seeing a real comeback lately as a natural alternative to commercial rooting hormones.

If you want more pussy willow trees, you can hardly go wrong. Be aware, however, that the roots will travel far in search of water. Don’t plant your new trees anywhere near underground pipes or septic tanks, or you’ll be in for a lot of trouble in a few years.

How to Grow Pussy Willow from Cuttings

The best time for rooting pussy willow branches is spring. Cut a length of new growth that’s about 1 foot (30 cm.) long and as straight as you can find. If there are leaves on the cutting, remove them from the bottom few inches.

You can start your cuttings in water or plant them directly in soil – both have high rates of success. If you’re using soil, sink the cuttings several inches into it and water it regularly since pussy willows like wet conditions. If you set the cutting in a glass or bottle of water, you should see white roots start to develop soon.

Once the roots are 3-4 inches (7-10 cm.) long, you can transplant the cutting to soil. And don’t throw away that water! You’ve just made your own pussy willow tea – put some other cuttings in that glass and see what grows!

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Read more about Pussy Willow


How to grow pussy willow

All you need to know about growing the beautiful Kilmarnock willow, or pussy willow tree.

Published: Wednesday, 3 February, 2021 at 2:01 pm

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does flower in February

Plant does flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does not flower in May

Plant does not flower in June

Plant does not flower in July

Plant does not flower in August

Plant does not flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Plant is not at its best in January

Plant is not at its best in February

Plant is at its best in March

Plant is at its best in April

Plant is not at its best in May

Plant is not at its best in June

Plant is not at its best in July

Plant is not at its best in August

Plant is not at its best in September

Plant is not at its best in October

Plant is not at its best in November

Plant is not at its best in December

Plant size

The silver furry catkins of pussy willow are one of the first signs of spring. While there are many different species and varieties of willow, which all bear catkins, the one most widely grown in gardens and best known as ‘pussy willow’ is Salix caprea ‘Kilmarnock’, or ‘Kilmarnock willow’. This is a small and compact deciduous tree, ideal for small gardens. It grows to around 1.8-2.4m high with a spread of up to 1.5m, and forms a stiffly weeping ‘umbrella’ of branches. Yellow-green stems are smothered in fuzzy silver catkins from late winter to early spring on bare twigs, before the leaves open. The pollen-laden catkins are immensely popular with bees. Rounded mid-green leaves appear after the catkins.

The Kilmarnock willow is sometimes referred to as ‘weeping willow’ but is not to be confused with the tree more widely known as weeping willow (Salix x chrysocoma) which quickly grows into a huge tree. There are other willow species that are grown for their decorative catkins, and which range in size from compact shrubs up to small trees.


How to Grow Weeping Pussy Willow from Cuttings.

Weeping Pussy Willow grown from a cutting.

This is one hot item that I never see available in Our Members Area, and usually just about every plant imaginable is available in our members are at deep wholesale prices. This is an item that would sell like crazy!

Weeping Pussy Willow

I picked up a Weeping Pussy Willow from a local wholesale growers a couple of years ago. Typically these trees are grafted onto another type of willow with a strong straight stem. But that takes time. First you have to grow out the tree that will be used as the root stock, then you have to bud or graft the weeping part on to that.

So I wondered how well they would do if I tried to grow them on their own roots. Suprisingly they were pretty easy to root as softwood cuttings, grew fast, but had to be staked. They have to be staked because the weeping part of this plant does not know how to grow upright. If they are not staked they would just lay on the ground and grow like a ground cover.

This is really more of a novelty item but they are fun to grow and it’s fun to train them in different ways.

Will they root as Hardwood Cuttings? I really don’t know. Most willows, especially Pussy Willows, are quite easy to grow as hardwood cuttings. But I don’t remember ever trying them that way. But I’d say it’s worth a try.

Weeping Pussy Willow loves full sun and being a willow should do fine in damp but not soggy area. Ironically, the one I had I planted on top of a bed that was pure sand and gravel and it did fine.

They do well in zones 4 through 8.

Questions, comments, mean things to say? Post them below and I will respond.

Take a gander at these posts.

Comments

I don’t have a comment, just the question. Thanks!

Mike: I`m curious. If you take a cutting or air layer a bush that say has a life span of about fifteen years,
and at the time of the cutting, the bush is nine years old, will the baby plant, being an exact duplicate
of the parent , have only six years to live, or does it get to have the full life expectancy of the species?

No, I’m sure they young, tender cutting will live out it’s full life span of 15 years if that’s what’s normal for the plant. Of course most plants seem to live pretty forever.

I have a Corkscrew Willow and last year I trimmed off a few limbs to clean it up. It’s only about 12 ft tall. Young. Anyway I had a bucket with some water and fertilizer in it so I thought what the heck…put the cut limbs in it and see what happens. Well a few weeks later and just before winter I pulled those limbs out and they had massive roots! I planted them and they have new leaves on them now. I was amazed. Free Willow trees.

That works with willows but few other plants. I’ve seen growers stick willow cuttings in a bucket of potting soil, willow cuttings more than 1/2″ in diameter and 48″ long.

Can’t believe those are in demand. We had a huge one in the yard where I grew up, probably 40’ tall. What a nasty messy tree! Constantly dropping branches, full of bugs and beetles. Nice to look at from a neighbor’s yard….

I don’t think a weeping pussy willow was 40 feet tall. They just don’t know how to grow upright, they have to be trained to get any height out of them at all. A regular pussy willow? Maybe, but even that seems tall, they typically grow as large shrubs.

Bruce,
Perhaps you’re recalling a weeping willow tree and not pussy willow.

That’s what I thought as well.

I planted a pussy willow tree in my rental back yard in Virginia. I let the branches lay on the ground when I mulched in the spring. In the fall I wanted to cut back the branches on the ground. To my surprise 2 had roots. I gave away the cuttings & moved from the area so I don’t know what happened to the cuttings. The tree I planted was removed by the property owner.

My back yard is very wet and has standing water with significant rainfall. I love curly willow and pussy willow and want to use them to hopefully utilize some of the water in my wet areas. Everything I find online says keep away from driveways, foundations and water lines but never a distance recommendation. I have an above ground septic system (sand mound) and the water lays a few feet behind it. Any guidance is appreciated.

I for sure would keep any kind of tree, especially a willow tree, away from the septic system. How far away? Most trees and plants have roots that extend out to the edge of the drip line of the tree, but not much further than that. Around a septic system? I would allow a lot more distance than that.

Hi Mike!
I’m presently growing peach seedlings (not sure of variety) that won’t be grafted. I grew dozens of Suncrest peach seedlings in Colorado (where I first found out about YOU!). They grew like FIENDS and were blooming and producing peaches by their fourth or fifth year. The one I planted by the irrigation ditch had huge, beautiful peaches every year – but we sold the property the first year they bore, and i never got to taste any of them.
I’m also growing a Japanese fantail willow (Salix sachalinensis) ‘Sekka’ from cuttings – VERY easy to grow that way, and they grow rapidly. Sadly, they don’t do well under black walnuts, which I have lots of, so this willow is growing in my mom’s garden, 3.5 miles away. It’s covered with catkins right now. Have you ever grown this willow? I’ll be taking a few cuttings this year and starting them in pots. Here are pictures: http://www.sierraflowerfinder.com/en/d/fantail-willow/6445
This spring is proving to be very exciting – I have lots of different seeds planted last fall that should be sprouting any time now, including 206 germinated Japanese maple seeds I planted in boxes last Sunday, and lots of assorted cuttings that are now starting to leaf out. You have been quite the inspiration to me! I don’t have a big setup – strictly small-scale for now, but it’s keeping me busy, along with a lot of other major stuff – taking care of my elderly parents being the biggest one. I’m looking forward to every day, going out to check my plants to see what progress they’re making!
Thanks Mike!
Becky Sewell, Cayuga, NY

I have not grown the Fantail Willow but it looks like it could be fun. When you have some I’d love to buy a few.


How to Propagate Willow Trees February 10, 2015

We have several of willows and would like to know if you can cut a branch and use that branch to start a new tree?

Willow trees are some of the easiest plants to root. In fact, you can actually grow a new tree by simply taking a stem and sticking it in moist soil. It’s the hormones in willows that cause such rapid rooting. So rapid in fact, that a rooting solution for other plants can be made by boiling willow stems in water. Our ancestors called it willow water.

To mix up a batch of willow water simply cut a few willow branches that are green and supple and about the size of pencil. Then cut the branches into 1-inch pieces and smash them with a hammer. Next, bring a pot of water to a boil, drop the willow stems into the water and remove from the heat. Allow the mixture to steep, stirring occasionally. Once cooled, it is ready to use.

In addition to using willow water for rooting cuttings, you can also pour it around young transplants to help accelerate their root development.

You can propagate willows by cutting branches any time of the year. Spring may be the best season because of the ample rain and the new tree will have the entire summer to become established before winter.

Take a cutting that is about 10-inches long and the diameter of a pencil. Next place the cutting in water. In time roots will begin to form and you can plant your new tree outdoors.

In areas where the soil stays moist such as beside a pond or river bank, you can just stick the cutting in the ground. Push it down fairly deep so that about 2-inches rises above the soil surface.

When planting your new willow tree it is important to choose a location that is about 100 feet away from buildings and underground pipes. Willow roots are notorious for wandering in search of water and will often cause damage to water or sewer lines and house foundations.

Also, willows must have copious amounts of water. Heat and drought stressed trees are susceptible to a number of diseases. So be sure to plant your willow where it will receive plenty of water.


Growing Pussy Willows

Pussy willows (salix discolor) are extremely easy to multiply. They root so easily that stems of almost any size can simply be stuck into a vase of water where they will form roots in just a few weeks.

They can then be potted into liner pots with moist soil for a few more weeks while their roots develop, or they can be planted directly into the ground in spring. The cutting must be set the right end up, as it originally grew.

Cuttings should be from new growth, at least as thick as a pencil, and a foot or more in length for direct sticking. And at least one or two buds must be above ground when the cutting is set.

Pussy willows grow well in almost any soil, but it is a good idea to supplement it with peat moss, leaf mold, or compost. They require full sun to thrive, but will survive in the shade as well. As with most willows, they do best when given lots of water.

Although they can be allowed to grow unpruned, the plant will benefit from regular pruning after blooming. Prune the lowest branches back to the trunk, and prune for shape. You can even cut the tree back to a 6-inch stump every two to three years just remember that severe pruning results in longer stems and larger catkins. Flowers form on the previous season's growth, not on new growth, so do not prune until after the flowers have faded.

For early blooming, cut branches of pussy willows may be brought in and set in a water-filled vase in a sunny window anytime after the middle of January. The catkins will develop and make a nice display for a considerable amount of time.

PUSSY WILLOW CRAFTS

The downy catkins of pussy willows are a great decorative element for DIY projects. Here are a few we love:

Pussy Willow Nest

Use wire and dried grasses -- available at florists and garden centers -- to transform pussy willows into a nest for decorative eggs. Add feathers for a more realistic look. Make sure your nest looks a tad irregular, to give it a more genuine appearance. Learn how to make an adorable pussy-willow nest in three steps by clicking here.

Pussy Willow Basket

A glass vase, sheet moss, floral wire, and pussy willow stems are all the materials you need to make a rustic pussy willow basket. This adorable, decorative DIY is a cinch to make in just two easy steps.

Pussy Willow Wreath and Balls

Feeling festive? These decorative crafts are so chic, it's hard to tell they're made with pussy willows. This project is for an intermediate DIYer, as plucking off the down catkins and using a hot-glue gun are required. You'll need a wreath form and styrofoam balls -- both available at craft stores like Michael's -- to complete this fun craft.


Watch the video: Growing Willow From Cuttings


Comments:

  1. Emilio

    Granted, good idea

  2. Goltimi

    All in good time.

  3. Pernell

    Uniquely, the excellent message

  4. Butrus

    This variant does not approach me.

  5. Telfor

    The nice answer



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