How to Prune Purpleosier Willow


The purpleosier willow is a medium to tall shrub found in the northeastern states. Used for basket making, purpleosier willow is also used to control erosion along streambanks. It provides cover for small mammals like rabbits and nesting sites for birds. Purpleosier willow grows between 10 to 20 feet in height and has smooth and slender branches which change from purple to an olive-gray when mature. The leaves are smooth and range from 2 to 4 inches long. The purpleosier willow is found growing along streambanks and rivers.

Step 1

Prune the purpleosier willow in the fall after most of the leaves have fallen and the plant is bare to ensure strong growth the following growing season.

Step 2

Prune back the top of the purpleosier willow with pruning shears, and cut to the terminal bud, which is the main area of growth on the willow. Cut back all lateral or side branches that are twisted and weak. The goal is to produce one strong and central branch leader.

Step 3

Cut back broken and diseased stems by removing the entire stem. Cut off all insect-infested branches to prevent infecting the willow.

Step 4

Prune to one central shoot, and cut off all weak and thin branches on young purpleosier willows. This will free up needed nutrients for the rest of the willow. Remove all sucker shoots or stems growing from the root and base of the willow.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always wear gardening gloves to prevent cuts and scratches.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears


  • Purpleosier Willow Plant Fact Sheet: USDA
  • The Ohio State University
Keywords: purpleosier willow, pruning purpleosier willow, cutting purpleosier willow

About this Author

Callie Barber is a writer and photographer in North Carolina. Her work has appeared in Forbes and Automotive News magazine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.