How to Prune a Salix Caprea

Written by d.c. winston
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How to Prune a Salix Caprea
Salix caprea fruit containing its seeds. (Jose Hernandez @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database)

Salix caprea, commonly known as goat willow or pussy willow, is a deciduous shrub that is more often considered a small tree. It grows up to 25 feet tall, and almost as wide. This fast-growing tree is native to Europe and Western Asia. With its natural shrub habit, salix caprea can be pruned into privacy screens and hedges. Spring pruning is optimal for salix caprea. As with all pruning designed to protect and enhance bloom, make all cuts at least a 1/4-inch above an outward-facing node.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Ladder
  • Handsaw
  • Pole saw
  • Loppers
  • Secateurs

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  1. 1

    Use clean secateurs or a handsaw to cut off the tips of branches that hold the white, cloud-like catkins. Set the pruned catkins aside for decorative, household use.

  2. 2

    Cut or saw off any dead or diseased branches. Pull them free from the canopy and set aside.

  3. 3

    Saw cut roughly 1/3 of the older, drier grey branches to the ground. Use a ladder, if necessary.

  4. 4

    Remove about 1/3 of the newer wood branches that are brown.

  5. 5

    Keep an eye on the overall shape of the salix as you work. Modify your pruning to achieve the shape you're after.

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