First Willow, How to Pot and With What Soil?

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#1
Hi everyone, this is the first time I've posted here. I recently bought a dwarf blue leaf arctic willow. I know willows require a lot of water compared to many plants. Can I take this need into consideration by using soil that has a very high water retention or is that not enough? I am waiting until early spring to do anything to it. Right now it is planted in my back yard in a very wet area.
 

Bonsai Nut

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#2
Hi everyone, this is the first time I've posted here. I recently bought a dwarf blue leaf arctic willow. I know willows require a lot of water compared to many plants. Can I take this need into consideration by using soil that has a very high water retention or is that not enough? I am waiting until early spring to do anything to it. Right now it is planted in my back yard in a very wet area.
Welcome to the site!! Living in Southern California, I am not your willow expert. I'll let someone else chime in who has more experience with the species.
 

milehigh_7

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#4
Welcome! @Rmorrow We recommend that everyone put their location in their profile. It really helps us give accurate advice, or in some cases know when we can't help. So that's what I would advise first. Then we can try to get you some help for your location as it will differ from mine I can almost promise! :) In any case, welcome to the Nut House, jump in and have fun!

Oh also when you post a question about a tree, give us pictures. Get the clearest, best quality pictures you can. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and most times it's true!
 
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#5
Welcome! @Rmorrow We recommend that everyone put their location in their profile. It really helps us give accurate advice, or in some cases know when we can't help. So that's what I would advise first. Then we can try to get you some help for your location as it will differ from mine I can almost promise! :) In any case, welcome to the Nut House, jump in and have fun!

Oh also when you post a question about a tree, give us pictures. Get the clearest, best quality pictures you can. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and most times it's true!
My apologies! I am located in northwestern Pennsylvania. I believe my hardiness zone is 6b. I am located close enough to Lake erie that lake effect snow is very common and our winters have been known to be harsh. With that being said, the last few years have cycled through mild and severe winters. Thanks for the reply! In the future I will also include pictures.
 
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#6
Welcome to the forums! I lived in that area many years ago. Actually in southwestern New York in Olean outside of Buffalo. Biggest snowflakes I've ever seen coming down the size of saucers.
Willows grow everywhere, at least anywhere there's water.
I have them in all mixes from potting soil to pure pumice, they don't seem to have a preference as long as you're there with the water. I work with them throughout the growing season, repotting, root pruning and cutting without a hitch. Late season trim will produce shoots that will likely be killed off during winter so I avoid working on them then, but the rest of the time it's on and you try to keep up.
 
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#7
Welcome to the forums! I lived in that area many years ago. Actually in southwestern New York in Olean outside of Buffalo. Biggest snowflakes I've ever seen coming down the size of saucers.
Willows grow everywhere, at least anywhere there's water.
I have them in all mixes from potting soil to pure pumice, they don't seem to have a preference as long as you're there with the water. I work with them throughout the growing season, repotting, root pruning and cutting without a hitch. Late season trim will produce shoots that will likely be killed off during winter so I avoid working on them then, but the rest of the time it's on and you try to keep up.
Thanks for the reply. Because they are so dependent on water, do you find that you water them more often than other plants, or does using a medium with high water retention satisfy their need enough that you aren't watering them all the time?
 
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#8
I water as needed. That's usually once a day. When they get bigger they take more and I will put a tray under the pot to catch drainage. I will usually cut them back if they get too big for the pot or just put it in the pond so it can soak up water from the bottom. Then I can let them grow out more.
You have to see what works where you are. If you have it in the ground it's really no concern. You might try taking a few cuttings if it's growing out. Anything you cut can be rooted very easily. You can put cuttings in water and they will sprout roots. You can go right to soil, but they will do fine in just water until you have time to pot them up. You can end up with a whole lot of willow really fast.
I would like to see a pic of your tree. I have two dwarfs. The Salix polaris is the dwarf Arctic Willow and Salix purpura nana is the dwarf purple willow. I also have weeping purple dwarf willow. The blue leaf Arctic dwarf I'm not familiar with, could be the same as Polaris with a different name or a cross between purpura and polaris.
 
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#9
I water as needed. That's usually once a day. When they get bigger they take more and I will put a tray under the pot to catch drainage. I will usually cut them back if they get too big for the pot or just put it in the pond so it can soak up water from the bottom. Then I can let them grow out more.
You have to see what works where you are. If you have it in the ground it's really no concern. You might try taking a few cuttings if it's growing out. Anything you cut can be rooted very easily. You can put cuttings in water and they will sprout roots. You can go right to soil, but they will do fine in just water until you have time to pot them up. You can end up with a whole lot of willow really fast.
I would like to see a pic of your tree. I have two dwarfs. The Salix polaris is the dwarf Arctic Willow and Salix purpura nana is the dwarf purple willow. I also have weeping purple dwarf willow. The blue leaf Arctic dwarf I'm not familiar with, could be the same as Polaris with a different name or a cross between purpura and polaris.
Thank you for the reply. Here are a couple pictures I took. The trunk is roughly 1" in diameter, maybe slightly larger.


 
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#10
Looks like Salix purpura nana, I have lots of them. What I would do at this time is remove all the shoots at the base of the tree and select one of the upper to be the top of the tree. It will make a whole new batch of shoots and you can let them grow out for a while, maybe two weeks and then cut them off again. Each time you do this the trunk gets fatter.
I let the top branches grow out till they get nice and bushy and then crop it all back to stubs. It bushes out again and when it's full coppice it off. These grow so fast I usually get three or four cycles in a growing season. A few seasons and they are pretty well developed.
They do grow and develop fast, but you can lose the whole thing or at least all of the refinement just as fast. If they get dry in the heat they'll die back to the bigger wood, and small twigs freeze off in winter. Settle on a basic design that is easily changeable. They are an upright growing tree, but with light wiring can be weeping.
 
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#11
Looks like Salix purpura nana, I have lots of them. What I would do at this time is remove all the shoots at the base of the tree and select one of the upper to be the top of the tree. It will make a whole new batch of shoots and you can let them grow out for a while, maybe two weeks and then cut them off again. Each time you do this the trunk gets fatter.
I let the top branches grow out till they get nice and bushy and then crop it all back to stubs. It bushes out again and when it's full coppice it off. These grow so fast I usually get three or four cycles in a growing season. A few seasons and they are pretty well developed.
They do grow and develop fast, but you can lose the whole thing or at least all of the refinement just as fast. If they get dry in the heat they'll die back to the bigger wood, and small twigs freeze off in winter. Settle on a basic design that is easily changeable. They are an upright growing tree, but with light wiring can be weeping.
Thank you for all of the information! So I just want to make sure I understand correctly, you suggested that I prune every branch at the base except one branch at the top, then let it grow out new shoots, and repeat?
 
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#12
These are usually a bush. In your first pic it looks like it was cut low to bush it out. In landscape it would be sheared into a spherical shape. If you want to make it a tree you have to remove most of the bush and start over. This happens pretty fast, explosive new growth. Cut a branch and in three days you sort out the new shoots or it will grow out into a mess again. All cuttings will make more trees for you. I only start the nicest ones, you have to get accustomed to throwing them away, and watch where you throw them, I've found them growing in the driveway.
These are unruly growers and you just have to keep wacking them back to your design.
I find that Salix polaris, dwarf Arctic Willow a much easier willow to contend with. The growth is more prostrate and the leaves are smaller. They make a very nice small upright tree. I'm making several to add to forest planting as understory.
 
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#13
Here's a couple of pic of one I've been working with for a few years. Started from a cutting, allowed to grow into something like yours and then processed as described. I just thinned out the branches and bent some down. 1500864478846877793453.jpg 1500864769745-1121887511.jpg
 

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