What's the deal with these new hybrid willows?

mickeddie(6)September 24, 2006

Hi Everyone,

I've been reading about hybrid willows on a lot of the online nurseries. The pictures look the same, but the details vary. Some say they grow anywhere from 6'-20' per year. Some say they can get 100' tall and 40' wide (I don't buy it). One the other hand, some say they will only get 8-15' wide (5' wide if you plant them in a row). I'm not sure which sites to believe, if any. Are they invasive? Can I plant them on a border between neighbors without worrying about baby willows cropping up in their yard? Do they get out of control like bamboo? I'm thinking about planting them between my house and a next door neighbor, but I don't want to tick him off if it is going to spread majorly into his yard.

Any thoughts on this shrub, or which online nursery to use? The prices vary drastically as well. One sells 5 for $8.00 total and another is selling them for $20.00 each (same size). I have heard of these nurseries before.



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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

The willow group is huge! Do you know the genus & species (or even common name) of what you are talking about? One of the more ubiquitous ones lately, seen at big box stores alot last year, has been Salix integra 'Hakuro Nishiki' (dappled willow), but that might not be what you're talking about. Need more info!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2006 at 7:25PM
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Sorry about that. I guess it's like saying, "Oh, you're from Chicago? Do you know a guy named Bill who lives there?"

I actually have a couple Hakuro Nishiki and they are indeed colorful. Very leggy and wild, but colorful.

Below are some of the descriptions I pulled from the online nurseries.

The Willow Hybrid tree, Salix Willow Hybrid, also called a Hybrid Willow, will, on average, and under normal conditions, grow six feet per year. Under ideal conditions and on good sites the growth rate is even faster, up to twenty feet a year. Planted as a hedge, screen, windbreak, or to line a road or drive, you can expect this tree to be over 20Â tall and 15Â wide in just three years.

This deciduous tree can grow to over 70Â tall. This tree will require supplemental water until established. It is not a Weeping Willow, but an upright growing majestic tree. Many homeowners use this tree as a shade tree because of its fast growth and quick shade.

Salix Alba Matsudunna Through a special purchase, we are again able to offer for sale this season this nationally advertised fast growing tree species. Willow hybrid, on average and under normal conditions, will grow six feet per year. Planted as a hedge, screen, windbreak, or to line a road or drive, you can expect this tree to be over 20' tall and 15' wide in just three years. It can grow to over 70' tall.

Salix Hybrids are the fastest growing trees we know of for shade, privacy, wind protection, and soil conservation. They can grow up to 20 feet in only one season! Trees are DISEASE RESISTANT and do not spread by seed or suckers. They often reach 80-100 feet tall with lateral branches from the ground up.



    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 8:22AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i would rather poke my eyes out and gnaw off my own arms .. before i would ever plant any willow ...

anything with a 20 foot per year growth rate.. is fast to grow.. fast to die.. fast to be a WEAK tree .. fast to cost you a lot of money to remove ...

let me put it this way .... if they are selling 5 for 8 bucks.. that means they reproduce or root freely .. and i would presume they are invasive ... if they were slow growing.. then the sellers investment would dictate a higher price ...

please .. please.. please ... do NOT plant willows ...

but of course.. knock yourself out with whatever decision you make ...


PS: i feel the same way about maples/mulberries/cottonwoods and poplars ....

PPS: if it sounds to good to be true.. you know the rest ...

    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 1:36PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

Well - based on that 2nd source calling it "Salix Alba Matsudunna", I found a variety of "Salix alba x matsudana" here under "The GlobalCompendium of Weeds", listed as a noxious weed. So right there, assuming it is a similar or the same hybrid (but with a misspelling), then I think that speaks for itself!

    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 2:54PM
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Thanks for the info. I'm going to pass on this shrub completely and find another that suits my needs. I don't need it to be that big, just enough to prevent trespassing.



    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 3:57PM
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What you need is cockspur hawthorn. ;-)


    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 9:13PM
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First, I would question any willow claiming up to 24 feet in a year -
Second, there are literally thousands of hybrid willows - saying 'hybrid willow' is like saying 'hybrid corn'. Each one has it's own characteristics. Hybrid willows are produced by using the pollen from one tree to fertilize another, then the resulting seeds are planted and the best are selected for use.
Third, the term hybrid willow only refers to the fact that it is from a cross pollenation - those best plants are reproduced as clones from that plant usually from cuttings.
Fourth, the preferred selection should be a sterile male, even though willows seldom spread by seed in our country, thereby eliminating the possibility of being considered a noxious weed because of it's uncontrolled reproduction or it's effects on native plants.

My suggestion is to not buy a "Pig in a poke(sack)" If the grower doesn't know what they are selling, find one who does. Cloned trees are usually named or more usually identified by a code such as SX61 a Japanese origin hybrid willow or NZ4650 which is from New Zealand or SV1 which was developed in New York.

Here is a link that might be useful: BioSeedlings

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 4:14PM
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I planted 27 willows. They grew 6'-12' feet the first year. I now have a beautiful backyard of 25-35 foot trees that block my staring neighbors. It is a gorgeous sea of green that sway in the wind. They are not reseeding. The branches on my biggest reach five feet wide. My backyard is a swamp int he spring and the willow love it. I am thrilled with the value and growth. What a find.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 1:20PM
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A concern with willows is that the ROOTS are invasive and strong... they can damage underground pipes, especially sewer lines and cause expensive damage. Beyond that, I personally don't see the harm, as long as you aren't considering them a permanent fix because they are somewhat short-lived and prone to blowing down in storms.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 10:14PM
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I have 25 willows, lots of variety. Did buy 6 of the hybrids advertised as fast growers but they all croaked. Swamp in winter.

Best willow here is Prairie Cascade, extremely fast grower, no shedding, bright golden trunk and branches in winter, luscious dark green glossy leaves in summer, lovely form. Huge. Very hardy.

Bought 5 blue arctics, cute little things, but their rootstock, smithiana, suckered like mad and we let them grow, needed the shade desperately, very big fat and tall now, swishing green canopy, bright yellow puffy flowers early spring, will be cutting off many of these enormous suckers this January as the specimen trees under their canopy are finally old enough to handle bright sun.

Planted willows to suck up vast amount of swamp water. Working!

For a screening border plant a variety of conifers and broadleaf evergreens. Match your soil and water conditions to plants that will thrive in your yard. Willows, except for the Prairie Cascade (at least in my yard), shed all year and are prone to snap crackle pop in the wind and ice.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 7:21AM
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I'm thinking these are like the "austrees" that are advertised? I looked them up once too, and heard that the life span on these trees (not what the sellers say, but what buyers have said) is not very good. But I suppose...since they do grow so fast.... we live on a busy road, and my husband wanted to look into these to block out the traffic so we could actually have some privacy in our yard.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 9:21AM
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My intention (as I assume is others, as well) was to plant these paired with other more desirable, longer lived trees (such as an oak, for example) to get some amount of green/privacy/shade/whatever fairly soon while the other tree develops over time. When the willows on it's way out the better will be there to fill in.

Do these Hybrid Aussie Willow Tree really grow as fast as they're purported to?

If so, Might any of you be willing to spare a few cuttings?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 12:44AM
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here is a pic of a hybrid willow hedge I have. Its high maintenance to keep it a certain height, but I get plenty of cuttings to plant elsewhere though, so it works for me. Anyways, anybody that has less than an acre, shouldn't let this plant attain mature size or it'll be a curse.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 10:48AM
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dlmill(5 CO)

The former owners of my home planted several austrees along the back fence of a 1/3 acre lot. They were 8-12 feet when we moved in three summers ago. They are taller than our two-story home, and I have pruned them at least twice a year. Maybe this year I will cut them down a lot more to see what happens.

The good thing is that they do offer privacy from our back neighbors, and they do look nice, particularly in the wind.

The bad is that they are very messy. Leaves EVERYWHERE. We had one four-inch trunk break this year in a wind storm. I am a bit fearful of their roots getting into our sprinkler system or worse. I am also a bit fearful that they will die off, leaving us with a lot of removal fees. And they LOVE water. I've heard from others whose trees died because they were not irrigated.

If you have a large plot of land with ample room for the trees and you want them for privacy, I would consider them, so long as you water them or they get a lot of rain. If you live in a residential area, I would not. I would much rather have a nice tall hedge of shrubs than austrees.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 3:09PM
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We purchase 27 of these plants from Nature Hills. All 27 of them never sprouted! (They are shipped bareroot in dormancy) We called Nature Hills and they told us to give it more time. We gave it 6 weeks and still nothing. Nature Hills won't issue us a refund and tell us they don't have any of these plants left this season. (Could it be they shipped us the last of the stock and it was less than healthy?) Nature Hills solution to the problem is to have us re-purchase the plants next year. Hardly a solution! I would discourage anyone from purchasing from Nature Hills. Customer service is non-existent and they don't stand behind their products.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 3:27PM
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I bought my willows from reputable mail order nurseries who had complete details about the plant. Two that have a large variety are Bluestem Nursery http://www.bluestem.ca/ and Forest Farm Nursery. The variety of stem and leaf and growth habit is incredible

I have a corner lot and I grow several different types as hedges to screen out the street view. My favorites are salix daphanoides and a silver leafed willow whose latin name escapes me at the moment.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 3:53PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Ken, you feel the same way about willows as you do maples?

I heard people rip on willows (they do have their place) but maples?? Or maybe you specifically mean Silver Maple?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 5:55PM
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well_rooted(5, BC Canada)

felisa is right. There are many many different kinds of willows. Its not appropriate to knock them all, just because of your experience with one.

austrees sounds like one of those hyper-marketed plants.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 9:27PM
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naturalstuff(Z6 / CT)

Anyone have any backyard pics of their hybrid willow. I dont want to spend over $200 on 10 trees and I need privacy NOW from my starring neighbor!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 2:55PM
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We live in Buffalo, NY and are looking to make a privacy screen ASAP. We'd like to cover both sides of our backyard, 30-40 feet down from the back of our house. We've got a nice deck and will be putting in a patio next year. We have gotten quotes for the Green Giants, but they seem to be hit or miss around here. Came across this hybrid willow and it looks like it would create a great privacy screen.

We have a row of dappled willows on one side, so we'll see how that goes. How different would this hybrid willow be? Seems like the same thing. Any other suggestions??

    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 9:50AM
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I live in oregon high desert, over 4000 feet no trees but what has been planted. these hybrid willows will grow over 20 feet by year 2, so if you want to get rid of them get some goats by end of summer they are gone

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 7:54PM
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I planted a screen of hybrid willows here in central Illinois in 1992. They are not "short lived." In fact, all are still living and quite hardy. They grew quickly without even watering to amture height of about 35' and have screened out neighbors effectively for years. You don't want these near your house; they lose smaller branches in wind storms and litter can be a problem.

There is a variety that has beautiful red stems in winter and only grows about 20' high, I think it's called coral snap by Advanced Tree Technology. If you need a quick deciduous screen I think these things are great. THere aren't any suckers or seeds or sprouts, but you can take a cutting and grow out roots.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 12:17PM
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I have a willow story. My neighbor whose backyard I see from the back of my house second story window bought corkscrew willow on sale about 8 years ago. It was a twig and cost about $2.00. It was a lovely little tree for a few years. Now, when I look at her garden from the second floor of my house it's taller than all houses around. Certainly taller than my house and wide, at least 12 feet if not more. Their yard has a lot of underground water and it shows. I think the willow is taller than all surrounding trees. Me, I'm happy with my arctic willow and when I want to see big willows I go to the lake or visit friends with large acreage.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 4:40PM
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When I lived in NM, that was just about the only deciduous tree that did well in the mountains. Loved it. Loved my ornamental cherry and plum trees. Loved my aspen.

Yeah, it was weak. And it could be messy. But I had a nice, tall tree in the front yard that was stunning and a delight to be under.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 9:45PM
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