Willow is a fast-growing tree that is known for its flexibility. It has long been popular for baskets and furniture-making. There are many varieties that can be grown for various uses, including hedges, living fences and even sculpture. According to master basket maker and willow grower, Roy Youdale, there are over 1,500 varieties of willow in England alone.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Willow cuttings
- Well-tilled site for planting
- Wetal rod or stick approximately 1 to 2 inches in diameter
Plant willow cuttings that are 10 to 12 inches long and taken from 1-year-old willow shoots in deep, rich soil with plenty of water access. The soil should be free of weeds and rocks. Cuttings should be planted while the soil is still dormant between November and March. Take a metal rod or straight stick about 1 inch in diameter and stick it down into the well-tilled soil about 8 inches if the cutting cannot be poked directly into the soil. Be certain not to damage the bark around the stem during planting.
Place your willow bed in full sun. They like to be alone without any competition. This is important in establishing a willow bed. Cut the willows down to the ground after their first year during the dormant period to promote multiple stem growth. After that, cut plants annually or along your preferred cutting cycle, particularly if the willow is being used for basketry. Once they are established, willows are a fairly low-maintenance tree and will produce for 20 years or more.
Mulch and hand weed your willow frequently as weeds can become a major hindrance to their establishment. Black plastic mulch is not recommended, particularly in warm climates, as the roots will "cook" under such treatment.
Place an electric fence around your willow beds if deer become a problem. Deer love willow and will eat it frequently. Rabbits can also hurt willow by gathering around the base of the trees.
Harvest stems for basketry and floral arrangements when the trees are dormant. Do not want to harvest stems that are budding. If you plan to sell or give away cuttings, you will want to do this during the dormant period as well.
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