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Growing Willows

Growing Willows

Niobe Weeping Willow


Vigorous and attractive trees in several forms. Hardy to zone 3 and good for specimen trees, in rain gardens, and near ponds or water features. Giant Flowered Pussy Willow (Salix caprea, 20892) is grown for its unusual, fuzzy silvery catkins. It makes a good spring accent or screen. Often used as a cut flower, and branches can be cut in early spring and put in vases indoors to force early blooming for cut displays. Reaches 15 to 20 feet at maturity. Niobe Weeping Willow (Salix alba Tristis, 22526) has a graceful, drooping habit with attractive, golden-yellow bark that provides winter interest. Its narrow leaves have yellow fall color. This fast-growing tree can reach 35 to 50 feet when mature. It makes a good shade tree and is excellent growing near ponds. Plant bare root Willow 4 to 8 weeks before the last frost in spring. Usually very easy to transplant. Prepare a hole 12 inches deep and wide and mix in compost or other organic matter. Plant with the roots slightly deeper than when growing in the nursery.


Adaptable and easy-to-grow trees for full sun. Prefers moist to wet soil, but tolerates dry soil once established. Good in heavy clay soil. Very tolerant of pruning, and can be shaped as desired. Prune damaged or broken branches as needed to maintain an attractive habit.

Fertilizer Recommendations

Use low rates of Gromax Fertilizer Tablets 20-10-5 (51165), Algoflash All-Purpose Liquid Fertilizer 6-6-6 (51085), or Neptune Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer 2-3-1 (51221).

Alternative Products

Poplar is another hardy tree that tolerates wet soils. Other hardy specimen trees include Eastern Redbud (22172) and Corylus.

Complimentary Products

Low to moderate feeders that benefit from occasional fertilization. Combines well with hardy shrubs for wet sites like Bergeson Compact Dogwood (20329), Little Henry Sweetspire (20587), and Ruby Spice Summersweet (20307).

Willow Facts

Usually not seriously troubled by pests or diseases. Aphids, borers, caterpillars, lacebugs, scale, canker, powdery mildew, and leaf spot are sometimes problems. Willow wood is fairly weak and may be damaged in winter by snow and ice  storms. Its flexible young stems can be used in crafts and for making baskets. 

Growing Tips