The Q&A Archives: Starting Weeping Willows

Question: Before I ask my question I just want to thank you for this service....We have just recently trimmed our weeping willow tree and we need to know the best way to start roots on the cut off branches. Should we put them directly into the ground, or put theminto a bucket of water until roots start to grow? Also if we should plant them directly into the ground could we plant them this time of year?

Answer: Well, we are happy to be here to provide the service! Congratulations....the trim was the hardest part of willow propagation. Ever root a stem from forsythia? You probably know how easy that is, this is just as simple. Willows are notorious for rooting easily. You could stick the stems in a bucket of water and they would probably root, but I wouldn't do it that way. Now there are plenty who may disagree with me but I am of the opinion that roots developed in water simply are not as strong and healthy as roots formed in a mix. I would simply make a fresh cut at the base of the stems you wish to root, moisten the cut and dip them in a rooting hormone such as Rootone. Dust off any excess powder. I would pot the cuttings in a soiless, potting mix in a container. Now, just try to keep them happy until the spring when they go to the garden. Keep them moist but not wet, and provide light (not too bright though). They will continue to grow so place the container in a cool (50F) room so it doesn't grow TOO fast. Fertilize lightly, enough only to keep them green and growing. Have fun with your new babies, just be sure to harden them off in spring before planting them outside permanently. I wouldn't try to put them outside until spring.

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