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How to Propagate Willow Trees

By M.H. Dyer ; Updated September 21, 2017

Weeping willow trees are hard to miss, with their unusual canopy of drooping branches and distinctive bright green foliage. Willows are one of the easiest trees to start from cuttings, and because they can grow ten feet each year, they'll provide shade very quickly. Take hardwood cuttings from weeping willow trees in late fall.

Start with clean, sharp gardener’s shears. Clean the shears by wiping them with a mixture of 9 parts water to 1 part bleach or rubbing alcohol.

Select a long, straight branch that is about the diameter of a pencil. Using the gardener's shears, cut the branch at an angle just below a leaf node, which is where a new leaf will grow from the stem.

Cut the branch into 5- to 6-inch pieces, and make sure every piece has three leaf nodes. Make each individual cut below a leaf node, at an angle.

Dip the bottom of each cutting in rooting hormone, and plant it in a container filled with commercial potting soil that has been thoroughly sprayed with water. At least two leaf nodes should be beneath the soil.

Put the container in a large clear plastic bag, which will act as a greenhouse, keeping the cuttings warm and humid. You may need to put sticks in the soil to keep the plastic from touching the cuttings.

Place the cuttings where they will receive indirect light, but don’t put them on a windowsill. The plastic will magnify the light and burn the cuttings.

Make sure the soil remains moist. Although the plastic will keep the environment very damp, the soil should be sprayed immediately if it appears to be getting dry.

Leave the cuttings in plastic until they take root, which should be in about a month. At that time, gradually remove the cuttings from the plastic by opening the top of the bag first, and then enlarging the opening each day. Plant the weeping willow cuttings outdoors when you’re sure they’re growing without benefit of plastic.


Things You Will Need

  • Gardener's shears
  • Bleach or rubbing alcohol
  • Rooting hormone
  • Planting container
  • Potting soil
  • Large clear plastic bag
  • Spray bottle

About the Author


M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.