How to Prune Chinese Willow Shrubs


Chinese willow--or salix matsudana, as it is known botanically--is a large shrub or small deciduous tree native to China. It is hardy down to USDA Zone 4b and is most commonly planted in moist to wet soil sites or those areas with increased salinity in the soil or water table. Chinese willow is fast-growing and can reach up to 50 feet at maturity. It should be pruned in the summer or fall to preserve optimal flowering and fruiting. While more of a rounded shrub in natural shape, the lower trunk can be stripped to present a tree form.

Step 1

Inspect your Chinese willow regularly during watering maintenance. Prune away any damaged, broken, dying or diseased limbs or foliage as you see them.

Step 2

Remove any water sprouts or suckers that emerge from the lower trunk area or the soil surface. Prune away all lower branches to maintain a classic tree form, instead of a shrub form, if desired.

Step 3

Conduct annual or biennial pruning to remove crossing or abrading branches, increase sunlight penetration into the canopy and improve air flow through the tree. Never remove more than one-third of the bulk of the tree canopy in any one pruning session in order to limit stress and reduce the threat of shock.

Things You'll Need

  • Pole saw
  • Hand saw
  • Loppers


  • University of Connecticut: Salix matsudana
  • North Carolina State University: Salix matsudana
Keywords: Chinese willow shrub tree, prune cut back, salix matsudana

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.