Growing Weeping Willow Trees
Weeping Willow trees, also known as Salix Babylonica, are one of 400+ species of willow! They are often depicted as romantic settings in novels, poems and movies. Their drooping branches and wispy leaves provide a canopy of seclusion for those who sit beneath them. They also easily grow along ponds and lakes, making them a wonderful addition to a picnic.
The Weeping Willow tends to grow as wide as it does tall, making for a very large and round tree. It can grow up to eight feet each year, and maxes out at between 40 and 75 feet. It blooms small yellow flowers with even tinier white fruit and seeds in the Spring. In the Fall, the leaves turn yellow and the entire tree takes on a shadowy appearance.
Random Facts and Trivia
- Weeping Willows are one of the fastest growing trees
- Willow wood is used to make certain musical instruments, such as flutes and whistles
- A myth surrounds the tree, saying that it droops and weeps because two lovers perished
- Some native Americans put the branches under a bride’s pillow in order to promote fertility
- The bark is used to make medicines, including aspirin and antacids
- Is not toxic to pets
- Is often used in wicker furniture
Where do Weeping Willow Trees Grow?
The Willow tree originated from Asia. While Weeping Willows are famous for growing near bodies of water, such as ponds and marshes, they can actually grow virtually anywhere. If planting in a drier climate, simply add regular watering to the care routine.
How to Plant a Weeping Willow
Be prepared to plant your tree approximately six weeks before extreme seasonal weather. Trees will grow quickly in sunny spots. Decide where you want your tree to live, being mindful of future damage that the roots can cause (keep away from drains, sewers and sidewalks). The roots can grow three times the width of the tree’s canopy. Dig a hole that is twice as wide as the young plant is tall. The soil must be soft and loose, and of high quality. It may be helpful to buy a Ph testing kit from a local gardening center. Spritz the roots of the young tree with water if they appear to be dry, then place it into the hole. It is extremely important that there are no air pockets under the roots when planting, as those pockets will dry out your sapling and kill it. Allow the stem of the sapling to remain above ground.
There is no need to fertilize the tree directly. Instead, fertilize the surrounding soil every two years. Organic fertilizer is preferred, but no matter what type you choose, make sure that it is high in nitrogen.
During the tree’s first year of growth, pay special attention to dry spells. Make sure it receives enough water, but be careful of over watering—both can cause wilting. Healthy leaves will be crisp, not wilted. If the tree was placed near water, it won’t need to be watered as frequently. Gardeners who want a natural way to soak up unwanted pooling water can plant a weeping willow to clean up the mess while maintaining itself practically on its own! Also, like a cactus, they can handle droughts quite well since they retain water. A good rule of thumb is that if the ground’s surface feels dry to the touch, water the tree for approximately 20 minutes.
It is not particularly necessary to prune this unruly seeming tree (although some pruning will promote more frond growth) once it’s an adult, but some trimming may be required if people or vehicles are going to be passing underneath. While it is a sapling, it is important to keep weeds at least three feet away from the stem. Begin with pulling the weeds by hand, and then graduate to using mulch after the sapling grows for several months.
Pests and Disease
The Weeping Willow isn’t prone to serious pests. Sometimes little worms and caterpillars like to eat through the leaves, but it’s only an aesthetic issue. It will also attract the Gypsy Moth, which is also a non-issue.
The more serious threat to Weeping Willows is a fungus called Willow Scab. This fungus will affect new twigs and leaves, causing visible cankers. Physalospora Miyabena is another type of fungus, which when combined with Willow Scab creates blight. Blight is symptom in which the affected areas brown and die.