Weeping willow trees are deciduous – trees that lose their leaves in the fall. The tree is a native of western China and grew in ancient Babylon, which is where its Latin name, salix babylonica, comes from. The weeping willow tree is a fast grower, growing 8 to 10 feet in a year. Unfortunately, fast-growing trees do not have a long lifespan -- the weeping willow's is 50 to 100 years.
Weeping willow trees grow to about 50 feet tall, with an equal spread. The branches split into multiple thin stems; these hang down in the weeping form. The leaves are olive-green on top, silver on the botton, thin – 1/2 inch wide – and shaped like a lance up to 6 inches long. Some of the newer cultivars have yellow-green leaves. The flowers are 1 inch long and fuzzy. They appear at the same time as the leaves. The tree also produces a light brown inedible seed pod. The bark is gray-brown and furrowed.
The weeping willow tree is hardy in planting zones 4 to 9, all but the coldest and hottest zones in the continental United States. It can be planted in zone 10, but it will need a good deal of water. Certain hybrid varieties grow as far north as zone 2, which is in southern Canada.
The weeping willow needs a lot of water. It will do well in all soil types as long as it does not drain fast and is not allow to get dry. The tree also needs a lot of sun. It will survive in shady conditions, but it will not attain its proper shape and will have a shaggy, disheveled look instead of a graceful, flowing appearance.
The weeping willow does best when planted near a pond or stream where it can get all the water it needs and help with erosion control. The wood is used to make furniture, fiberboard and plywood.
The roots of a weeping willow will seek out water. In doing so, they will break into water lines and sewer pipes. Thus, it should not be planted within 140 feet of a house. It is constantly dropping leaves and small twigs. It is also vulnerable to canker diseases. Anoplophora glabriponnis is a boring insect that can do severe damage.
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