How to Prune a Twisted Willow

Updated February 21, 2017

The "Salix matsudana," or twisted willow, is a deciduous tree capable of growing up to 40 feet tall and nearly 40 feet wide. This tree can grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 4b through 8a and also is known as the curly willow, corkscrew willow and pekin willow. The twisted willow grows fast and is ideal for locations with heavy frosts. Twisted willow gets its name from its branches, which grow in a twisted or corkscrew fashion. To maintain a healthy development and control the tree's growth, it must be properly pruned.

Prune the twisted willow tree during its dormant stage, which is throughout winter and early spring. Start the pruning process at the trunk of the tree. Cut away thin shoots forming along the base of the tree, using pruning sheers. Prune the shoots at 45-degree angles so only 1 inch or less of the shoots remains standing out of the soil.

Prune the canopy to ensure that ample light is reaching the inner leaves and branches. Because twisted willows have dense branches and leaves, it is important to thin out their canopies for healthy growth and development. Cut the branches at 45-degree angles, using a hand pruners or sheers. If a main branch has excessive shoots, cut them back to eliminate weight, which may cause damage to the tree trunk during windy weather.

Review the tree for dead or damaged branches. Cut back these branches by severing them directly in front of the branch collar at 45-degree angles. Remove dead twigs and branches to prevent diseases. Discard the branches into a trash bag.


Continually monitor the twisted willow throughout the growing season for dead or damaged branches and twigs. Remove these branches immediately.


Do not prune healthy branches within 1-inch from the branch collar, as this promotes a scar tissue development, which may increase the likelihood of disease.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Hand pruners
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About the Author

Jonathan McLelland has been a professional writer since 2005. He has worked as a story writer and editor for the international sitcom, “Completing Kaden,” as well as a proposal writer for various production companies. McLelland studied communication and theater at St. Louis Community College.