Elisabeth C. Miller Library

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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Woody plant cuttings, Salix, Propagation

I know you can plant willows from cuttings, but what about weeping willow trees? Can they be grown from a cutting (by an amateur)? If so, how?


Following is a suggestion from American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation, ed. by A. Toogood, 1999, p. 89.
"The most reliable method for propagating weeping willow (Salix babylonica) is by cuttings. Hardwood cuttings of vigorous willows may be as long as 6 feet and planted out immediately to mature faster than standard 8 inch cuttings. Take cuttings in late autumn from new, fully hardened wood that does not need to be very woody. Line them out in open ground, pot them, or place them in bundles in a frost-free sandbed to root. Select those in active growth in spring to pot. Cuttings may also be taken of green or semi-ripe wood. "

Here is additional information (no longer available online) from a British nursery called JPR Environmental:
"The best way to propagate weeping willows is first to find a mature tree that you like the look of and then go and ask the owner if you could take a small branch from it in the winter (most are happy to oblige and will tell you about their tree in great detail!).
"Once a source has been identified then look to prepare the ground. Make sure that the site is not near the house and not near any old water pipes etc. - it would be a shame to have to cut it down just when it is getting a good size. A site near water is good, willows like moist soil but do not do well in soil that is waterlogged for long periods. Dig a square pit say 18 inches wide and deep. Break up the soil and add some compost if the soil structure needs it.
"Now is the time to take a cutting. The best time of year is whenever the leaves are off the tree with the optimum being February to early March - so long as there is not a hard frost on the ground. The branch should be between 1 and 2 inches at the base and not more than 6 feet tall. Plant it in the hole that you have made, firming up the soil so that you cannot pull the branch out. If you are in a windy site it may be worth staking the tree and a rabbit guard will protect it from grazing in the first year or so."

Date 2020-03-12
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Woody plant propagation, Salix

Why do willow trees propagate so easily?


The technical explanation is that willows (Salix) have preformed or latent root initials that will elongate into an established root system when a part of the parent plant is removed.

If you were to take cut willow branches and make a kind of tea by soaking them in water, that water could be used as a sort of natural rooting hormone to help root other types of plants. This indicates that willows naturally contain a high level of the hormone that contributes to root formation.

Date 2019-11-07
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Salix, Edible plants

There's a type of willow used traditionally in Iran to make a fragrant beverage. In Farsi, it's called bid, and I think it's also known as musk willow. I need to know what the species is, and I wonder if it will grow in the Seattle area.


Most sources I consulted confirm that musk willow or bid is Salix aegyptiaca. Encyclopaedia Iranica says "bid" is a general term for the genus Salix, but does identify "musk willow" as Salix aegyptiaca. The online version of W.J. Bean's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: Temperate Woody Plants in Cultivation says the following:
"Native of S.E. Anatolia, S.E. Transcaucasia and N. Persia; introduced to the Botanic Garden at Innsbruck in 1874 by Dr Polak, doctor to the Shah of Persia, and in cultivation at Kew five years later. At one time a perfumed drink was made in Moslem lands from its male catkins, which were also sugared and eaten as a sweetmeat, and used for perfuming linen. For these it was cultivated from Egypt to Kashmir and central Asia, so the epithet aegyptiaca is not so inappropriate as it would otherwise seem to be."

Salix aegyptiaca is featured in the February 2016 issue of the Royal Horticultural Society's publication, The Garden in an article entitled "Willow the wish" by David Jewell. Since the article recommends it for gardens in England, where the climate is similar to ours here in the Pacific Northwest, it will probably thrive here in Seattle as well.

Date 2019-11-07
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Garden Tip

Keywords: Zinnia, Cornus stolonifera, Philadelphus lewisii, Salix, Butterflies

Want to encourage butterflies to take up residence in your garden this year? Red Osier Dogwood and willows are just a few of the plants that caterpillars eat, while adult butterflies drink the nectar from Western Mock Orange and zinnias. Read a brochure produced by the Washington chapter of the North American Butterfly Association to learn more about what plants support butterflies (pdf).For a print copy send $5 to Butterfly Gardens & Habitats, 909 Birch St., Baraboo, WI 53913 USA. Specify "Western Washington")

Date: 2007-05-16
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Garden Tip

Keywords: Garden design, Passiflora, Phygelius, Salix, Ceanothus

Do you want that "mature garden" look, but don't want to wait a decade to achieve it? Check out Fast Plants by Sue Fisher (Fireside, $16.00) to learn about trees, shrubs, vines and perennials that will grow up in a hurry. A few suggested plants for a near instant effect include:

  • California Lilac (Ceanothus)
  • Cape Fuchsia (Phygelius)
  • Bluecrown Passionflower vine (Passiflora)
  • Willow (Salix).
The author insightfully includes information on controlling growth because there is a fine line between fast and overly vigorous!

Date: 2007-09-18
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