The corkscrew willow, which is also called Salix matsudana Tortuosa, has a very different growth pattern than other tree varieties. The limbs of the tree are much smaller in diameter and they twist in a corkscrew shape, giving the tree its name. The branches are most visible in the winter when the tree has dropped most of the foliage. Pruning the corkscrew willow tree is similar to pruning other tree varieties.
Place a step ladder under the corkscrew willow so that you can easily access the branches. The ladder should be at least as tall as the location of the lowest branches on the trunk.
Look at the limbs for signs of disease such as mouldy-looking growth or leaves that have olive green, brown or black spots on them. Prune off these branches as close to the trunk of the willow tree as possible. Use loppers for branches under 1 inch in diameter and a pruning saw for all other branches.
Look for any branches that are black, which indicate that they are dead. Prune these limbs off as close to the boot as possible to redirect water and nutrients to the other parts of the tree.
Prune all remaining vertical branches off approximately 1 inch above the top of the main trunk. You will most likely have to use the pruning saw for this. Pruning in this manner encourages new shoots which will be bright red in colour.
You can prune corkscrew willow trees at any time during the growing season. If desired, you can allow the corkscrew willow to go unpruned other than removing dead or diseased branches. The corkscrew willow can grow up to 7 or 8 feet in a single growing season.