Weeping Pussy Willow Tree

Tips on Growing a Weeping Pussy Willow Tree

An unusual and lovely addition to a landscape is the weeping pussy willow tree.  Many people are familiar with the soft, fuzzy pussy willows that appear each spring; often, these stalks with the little buds are the focus of an afternoon family outing.  When planted in the yard and allowed to grow into a tree, this plant can easily become the focal point in the landscape.

Willows have been around for centuries, and have the distinction of being the first tree that was planted specifically for the purpose of harvesting the wood and twigs.  In very early days, the supple twigs were widely used in making baskets and so were trimmed regularly.  Every few years, certain trees were marked for cutting and used in fashioning poles that could be utilized in building.  This planned harvesting kept the groves vigorous and flourishing while also supplying the materials that were needed.

Several types of willow are commonly found; the French Pussy Willow, Goat Willow, European Willow and the American Pussy Willow.  The newest trend is growing a Weeping Pussy Willow Tree; a diminutive form of its magnificent antecedent that can provide a showy display in yards or even within the home when containerized.  

The difference between a traditional pussy willow shrub and the weeping variety is that the stems grow inverted.  They are trained to present their “weeping” form as they achieve height during their normal growing periods.  In appearance, the two varieties are quite similar.  In the early spring, the thin brownish red branches are decorated by the emergence of large, fluffy ovals of cottony soft catkins; the signature feature that provided the tree with its name.  The fuzzy buds are similar to the feel of the fur belonging to baby kittens, or pussies as they were called in days past.  Hoods of gold embellish these silvery catkins; eye catching traits that glisten when touched by the sun’s rays.  The soft nubs remain for a few weeks until they are replaced by the thin, green leaves that will fill out the tree throughout the season.  Even in the autumn and winter, when the leaves have departed, the tree continues to provide its interest and appeal from the bowing branches that curtain down to the ground.

Adding the Weeping Pussy Willow Tree to your garden collection can be easy.  An established two to three foot cascading tree can be difficult to obtain, and pricey when it is located.  The tree can easily be started from a simple cutting for those who have an established tree available.  As a softwood variety, cuttings from the tree should be done in late spring; around the end of May or early June.  Timing is crucial; earlier than this, and the stems will be too soft to work with while later will provide branches that have already become too rigid.  Choose tip ends only, which will be the newest growth on the stem.  Make a cutting of approximately 4”, and strip off leaves from the lower stem only.  This will leave you with a stem that has a few leaves at the tip.  Using a sharp knife, lightly scrape the cut end of the stem, starting from the bottom and ending about 2” up.  Treat the cuts with a rooting compound that can be bought at any garden center.  Place the cut ends in a jar that is partially filled with coarse sand and keep the sand continually moist.  An intermittent mist system is the best method of keeping them dampened.  Keep the cuttings in partial sun during the rooting process.  Once roots emerge, the tree can be transplanted.

For a touch of elegance and interest, the Weeping Pussy Willow Tree is the plant of choice.  Adding four season interest while being easily maintained, this tree will be a conversation piece as well as ornamental value in your yard.