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How to Care for a Weeping Willow

One of the most beautiful and graceful of trees, the weeping willow does well in zones 3 to 9 with full sun. Even though they are often found near rivers and lakes, weeping willows are adaptable to a variety of soils and growing conditions. They are useful to plant in wet areas as they have the ability to soak up a great deal of water. Weeping willows can easily grow 10 feet in a year and can reach a mature height of 40 to 50 feet in just a few years. They are one of the first trees to get new leaves in the spring and one of the last to lose them in the fall.

Planting and Care

Select a site in full sun. Weeping willows should not be planted within 50 feet of water or sewer lines as the roots will seek out water and could cause damage.

Planting should be done in the fall before the first frost or early in the spring. Dig a hole twice the size of the root-ball and place it in the hole. Cover and compact the soil so there aren't any air pockets that could dry out the roots. Water generously.

Water should be given to young trees regularly, especially during periods of heat or drought. If the leaves look droopy, they are either getting too much or not enough water.

Pruning should be done in the fall. Prune off the lower branches of young trees to allow headroom as the tree grows. Upper branches should be allowed to droop to the ground.

During the first year or so, keep the base of the tree free of weeds or grass.

Willow Trees And Weeping Willow Trees?

More than 100 species of willow grow within North America alone. It grows up to 50 feet tall and 40 feet wide. The tree's branches flow from the "weeping" branches to the ground, providing privacy both behind and directly beneath the tree. Like other members of the willow family, the weeping willow can be invasive in the wild. If the area in which you want to plant a tree or bush can't be kept consistently moist, or if a weeping willow is too large for your property, consider other willows. The bayberry willow (Salix myricoides), which grows up to 20 feet tall, and the prairie willow (Salix humilis), which grows between 2 and 8 feet tall, are both good candidates for sandy and dry conditions -- quite the opposite of what weeping willows need. Salix trees and shrubs spread rapidly. In California, for example, no willow trees are currently on the state's Invasive Plant Inventory Database.

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