Curly willow trees are a species of willow (Salix matsudana) grown for its twisting branches. There are several varieties of this species that vary in size and shape, but all have contorted growth habits, according to the University of Connecticut. The leaves of some of the varieties are slightly curled, which, along with the distinctive branches, gives rise to the common name of the tree.
Salix matsudana is a temperate-climate tree. This tree grows best in areas with mildly warm summers and cool winters. The curly willow should be grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Hardiness Zones 5 through 8, according to North Carolina State University.
Light and Location
Curly willows will grow in part shade but do best in full sunlight, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. These trees are tolerant of salty conditions and prefer wet locations, especially along bodies of water such as streams, rivers or ponds.
Soil and Water
Salix matsudana trees grow in a range of soils and adapt to different pH levels, according to the University of Connecticut. Like all willows, this tree thrives in wet soil but also tolerates drought conditions much better than most other willow species.
Salix matsudana trees have weak wood. Prune away damaged or diseased branches before ice, wind or snowstorms break these weakened branches. The thin bark can be damaged by gardening tools. The tree is also prone to producing suckers, which should be mowed down as soon as they appear. Twigs and leaves fall frequently from these fast-growing trees, and should be raked up promptly to prevent fungi that may be present on the tree debris from overwintering in the soil.
Curly willows are prone to several insect pest and disease problems, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. For this reason, and because of the fast growth and weak wood, these trees do not live very long. Home gardeners can keep their tree living longer by using fungicides and insecticides to prevent fungal diseases and insect pest problems from weakening the tree.