Willow Cuttings - Growing & Aftercare - A Simple Guide
Updated: Oct 24, 2021
This guide is meant as a simple introduction to growing and caring for your willow cuttings - we recommend that you do further research on the variety and type of growing before planting. If you have any questions or have any feedback on this guide, please get in contact with us - we would love to hear form you!
Some key tips on how to handle and keep your willow cuttings healthy before planting:
Store and keep all cuttings with triangular buds pointed the same way.
Keep cuttings in a dark place at +1-2 deg. C and best wrapped in an airtight wrap for short-term storage.
24-hours before planting the cuttings, remove from all packaging and soak them in cold water.
Minimise unnecessary handling.
Willow grows best in a sunny open locations. It will cope well in a wide range of soils and is best suited to fertile soils that can retain moisture, and provide good drainage all year round - willow thrives in such conditions!
Be careful not to plant willow not too close to buildings, stone structures, walls, drains, and septic tanks - willow actively seeks water and could cause damage. It is recommended to allow a distance of at least 1.5 x height you intend to allow the the willow to grow.
Ground should be clear of any weeds and cultivated / soil turned over to a depth of 30cm. Once you have done this you could add well rotted manure or compost to the soil. Then decide on weed control, willow will need this at the beginning to make sure the cuttings grow and establish into healthy plants. You can either use a breathable weed suppressing membrane, or by mulching the area with bark chippings. Make sure you keep the plants weed free during the growing season to ensure best growth.
There are many different approaches to spacing depending on the variety or type of willow. For example with basket willow it would be better to plant in square beds to achieve straight, slender rods. For more information on basket willow 'Cultivation and use of Basket Willows' is a great guide.
We find the best planting season for us runs from January through to March, however we have found high-success rate of healthy willow planting into Mid-April. Before planting the cuttings you should soak them in a few inches of water for 24 hours - all triangular buds pointing upwards. These buds will also be pointed upwards when placed in the ground. First make ~9" holes in the ground with metal pole or similar with roughly the same diameter as cutting. Cuttings are then gently pushed into the ground, leaving at least 2-3 inches of length of the cutting showing above ground level, allowing for mulching or weed suppressing membrane. Another common method is to ensure you have at least 3 buds showing above the ground (mulching/matting) level. Giving your plants a good watering daily (or every other day) for a couple of weeks will get your Willow off to a good start!
Aftercare & Maintenance
Watering may be necessary during long dry periods (particularly so) in the first few years. Keeping on top of the weeds in the early years will ensure the willow has space to grow into healthy plants. Most willow varieties benefit from being cut back hard using a pair of clean and sharp secateurs or loppers during the dormant season - this encourages more growth and helps to strengthen the core of the plant.