How to Plant a Willow


Willows are large, beautiful trees that grow well in almost any soil as long as they are given sufficient water. Their root systems are large and require lots of water. They should be positioned well away from water and sewer lines, or any place where a thick, dense root system can cause trouble.

Step 1

Dig a hole about twice as wide and deep as the root system of your sapling. Loosening the soil in this way promotes root growth. If you bought the tree in a pot, pull the roots out from the edge of the root ball to estimate their length.

Step 2

While you are digging the hole, soak the roots in a bucket of water to make sure they are plump and moist. Even if they look damp, give them a 15-minute bath anyway since the tiniest roots, the root hairs, may need the extra moisture.

Step 3

Set your tree in the hole so that the roots will be covered by soil to exactly the same depth that they were in the pot, or in the ground if the tree was sold bare-root. If you look on the trunk, you'll see a change in the color of the bark that marks the soil line.

Step 4

Fill the hole about halfway, then water to settle the soil and remove air pockets. Add the rest of the soil and gently firm it around the roots, then water again.

Step 5

Fertilize with 10-10-10 fertilizer, but keep it 4 or 5 inches away from the trunk, out where the smaller roots can use it.

Tips and Warnings

  • If you bought your willow in a pot and the roots are tightly curled inside, make five or six slashes with a knife through the root-bound mass. If you don't, the roots will continue to twine inside a small area instead of spreading out as they should.

Things You'll Need

  • Willow sapling
  • Shovel
  • 10-10-10 fertilizer


  • Questions on Willow
Keywords: how to plant tree, willow root system, willow tree

About this Author

Over the past 30 years, Mara Grey has sold plants in nurseries, designed gardens and volunteered as a Master Gardener. She is the author of "The Lazy Gardener" and "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Flower Gardening" and has a Bachelor of Science in botany.