The Q&A Archives: Pussy Willow Cuttings

Question: Hey, I got some pussy willow cuttings from my brother's tree and I was wondering what to do to them first before I tried to plant them and grow my own tree, if possible. I was told to boil some water and let it cool and then put the pussy willow branches in the water with something else so they will develope roots. I can't remember what the "something else" was. If you know, could you remind me? Or if you have the right formula for starting a tree from a cutting, could you let me know that?

Answer: Pussy willows (or any willow for that matter) will root readily in moist soil. If you want to hedge your bet you can dip the cut ends in rooting hormone before putting the cuttings into moist potting soil. Willows will also root in plain water. These plants really want to grow! You can take 6"-8" cuttings, about the size of a pencil in diameter, strip off the lower leaves and place the cut end down so 2 or 3 nodes (leaf scars) are buried in the soil. Roots will develop from the nodes. Keep the soil moist (but not soggy wet) and place the containers of cuttings outdoors in a protected area. You'll know the cuttings have rooted when new stem growth appears. If you have several cuttings, you can try all three techniques and see which works best for you. I've had success just using a 3"-4" piece with 2-3 nodes and laying it horizontally in a pot of moisted growing medium. I cover all but one node with additional potting soil and root develop on the underside of the cutting, and a new shoot grows from the exposed node. Good luck with your pussy willow propagation project!

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