How to Plant a White Willow Tree


The white willow (Salix alba) grows extensively throughout North America. Capable of reaching 80 feet in height, the white willow displays downy yellow catkins and pointed ovoid leaves. The white willow can be planted in the spring or fall; gardeners in wintry climates should aim for spring planting to help the tree adapt to its environment before frost sets in.

Step 1

Choose a site for your white willow that will allow the mature tree adequate room to grow. Avoid planting too close to the house or to any sidewalks or walkways, since the tree's roots will disrupt the concrete.

Step 2

Dig a hole with your shovel that's two to three times as wide as the willow sapling's root ball and equally deep as the root ball. Jab the shovel at the bottom of the hole to roughen up the dirt.

Step 3

Remove a container willow sapling from its container. Squeeze the root ball with your fingers to break it up and untangle any tangled roots. Failure to break apart new roots may allow tangled roots to choke the tree later on. For a balled and burlapped willow sapling, untie the twine and cut the burlap from the tree's root ball. Do not touch the tree's root ball, since it won't be curled.

Step 4

Place the white willow in the hole so it's vertically straight and planted at the same depth as it was in the container. Spread the roots of the willow out with your fingers.

Step 5

Back fill the hole with soil. Do not press the soil down.

Step 6

Water the newly planted willow until the soil becomes saturated and compresses around the tree.

Step 7

Layer three to four inches of mulch or pine straw around the base of the young willow in a three-foot circle. Mulch will help the soil retain moisture.

Step 8

Provide the young tree with one inch of water per week for its first year, as Clemson University recommends. Don't water if it rains at least one inch, however.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • White willow sapling
  • Water
  • Mulch


  • Virginia Tech: Salix alba Fact Sheet
  • Clemson University: Newly Planted Trees - Strategies for Survival
  • Tree Help: How to Plant a Tree
Keywords: white willow, plant willow tree, plant white willow

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.