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How to start willows?

Posted by sanfan z4 Ia (My Page) on
Thu, Apr 3, 03 at 6:50

I have a line of Willows that grow very fast. I've had them for over 10 years and they do a great job for wind breaks and they are attractive. I'd like to start some from the branches. I get them to root ,but they die down after a while.I'd order more of them, but the grower has tripled the price. I thing they are Ausie trees. That's proably spelled wrong.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: How to start willows?

Don't know if rooting powder would help. Now Ken Lafferty siad at home expo in Ceadar Rapids saturday Aussie trees are very short lived. I had asked him about them was thinking of getting some.

RE: How to start willows?

This is what I found at about propigating willows:

"Although they can be grown from seed the easiest way is to plant cuttings. The cuttings should be about one foot long (30 cm.) and should be planted about 9 inches deep (23 cm.) with perhaps two buds above the surface and about 18 inches (45 cm.) apart. They should be planted in spring in well prepared soil which you have to try to keep weed free for the next couple of years or so."

I know that Austrees are a hybrid willow, so am not sure about starting them. I do know they are very susceptible to disease and don't live very long.

RE: How to start willows?

In the Spring I take 18 inch cuttings off my corkscrew willow, stick them in a quart jar of water, set it in the shade and add water as needed. They root quickly and I then trim a bit off the roots if they are too long and pot them up. Last year[2002] I didn't get them planted and they stayed in the jar all summer. When frost threatened I brought the whole thing into the cool greenhouse where it stayed till this Spring. They had lost their leaves and I suspected they were dead so was surprised to see them start to leaf. I trimmed back the massive root system that had developed and potted them up and sold them at my annual plant sale in May. They are extremely easy to root. Mary

RE: How to start willows?

Mary's right. Let me share a story...

After college, when I was in the first real apartment that I would have called a home, and had my first real job, I wanted a plant support to grow devil's ivy onto in a pot, and asked my dad to cut me some branches from the farm when they next came to visit. It was winter. He brought a couple nice branches, about 4 inches diameter, and about 3 feet long. I think it was a couple months later that I noticed leaves growing on my plant supports. When I called my dad and told him "guess what, you're never gonna believe this," he laughed and said "the branches are growing, right?" He thought he'd pulled a pretty good joke on me. The branches were from the old willow trees in the grove, and he told me all you have to do to get a new tree is plant a branch. "Everybody knows that," he said. Ha!
The ivy never did grow, and I ended up giving up on the whole thing.

I do know now that you can soak some willow branch cuttings in water a couple days and use that solution for a dip to root cuttings. I would guess it's probably a trait of willow, no matter the variety, that it will easily root and grow. With curly willow, we just cut a branch 2-3 feet long and stick it in the dirt. A few always do die, but many look dead but will grow if you keep them watered.

RE: How to start willows?

Hi Stan, a friend of mine says to just cut a foot long piece. Take a mallet and pound it halfway into the soil and let it go. Just keep it well watered and that's all he's done. I don't think he lost any of them. (course that was a wet spring when he planted them too)

RE: How to start willows?

I have been propagating Austrees since they were introduced to me back in 1988. I purchased 9 rooted cuttings at that time for about $10 each and planted them 4 feet apart. From those original 9 trees over 500 new trees have been grown, and I have never bought another one! My original trees (now 16 years old) are 50-60 feet tall and are as healthy as ever.

I started many new trees by simply pruning branches no less than 1/2" in diameter at the base (rabbits LOVE them & will snap them at the base if smaller...). Trim branches to 3-4' in length & trim side shoots as well (existing leaves will die anyway). Make an angled cut at the base so they will push in ground easier. Push them into ground at least 6". Water, water, water. This method works fine but root development & rapid growth will take some time.
A BETTER WAY I found is to cut branches like above, but then submerge bases in 3-4" water in a 5-gallon bucket. Then be patient. In 2 weeks you will have new root growth. The longer you let them root in water, the more vigorously they seem to take off once you plant them. When you plant them just take a spade and open up the earth, push them in carefully to avoid too much damage to new roots, close up opening, & water, water, water. When I planted my first one with this method it outgrew the others 4 to 1, and after one full season it stood 15 feet tall & 5' wide with a trunk base of at least 3" in diameter !!

ps. don't forget to give them a yearly 'haircut' for the first few years if you want to force more growth to the lower branches and produce a thicker, more dense screen.

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