The Austree (Salix Matsudana X Alba) is a hybrid willow, bred in New Zealand during 30 years of research at the Department of Science and Industrial Research. Today, this fast growing tree sells in the United States and elsewhere around the world to consumers who desire a quick privacy hedge or a rapid windbreak. In some areas, the trees, which resemble tall bushes with strong vertical growth, are beneficial for controlling erosion. Like many willows, you may propagate the Austree from cuttings.
Select a 3-foot section from a slender Austree branch that is flexible and green. If you’re taking the cuttings in the fall, the current season’s growth is fine. Choose branches approximately as large in diameter as your thumb.
Make a sharp diagonal cut just below a leaf node and remove the leaves and any side suckers from the bottom 1/3 of the branch with your fingers. The leaves on the upper section of the branch may remain but snip off any side suckers.
Place the cut Austree branch in a 5-gallon bucket filled with water. You may put additional branch cuttings in the same bucket and place it in a shady spot where the cuttings are out of strong winds.
Add water to the bucket occasionally to keep the water level within a few inches of the top of the bucket. Willow cuttings are easy to propagate in water and the Austree cuttings are no different.
Check your cuttings after two weeks to see if tiny roots are beginning to form. Hairlike roots will grow beneath the water from the spots where you removed the leaves.
Plant your Austree cuttings where they are to grow when small root hairs are about 1 inch long. You may store the cuttings in the water for a week or two longer if you’re not ready to plant them.
Dig a hole a few inches wider than the spread of the root hairs and approximately 1½ feet deep. Fill in around the branch cutting with soil and water well for the first year. These trees thrive on water.