How to prune willow bush

prinesurf(6)October 14, 2009


I'm a gardening novice. I have 5 real nice blue artic willlows planted last fall at 3 gallons each. They have grown all summer and are now about 3 x 3. When and how do I prune these guys? Should I wait for them to grow more? do a harsh cutting

any infor would be helpful

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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

What are your goals?

Are you trying to keep it a certain size?
Are you trying to get a certain shape?

Typical time to prune is spring.

Blue Artic Willows respond well to that case if you are tyring to rejuvenate or keep them to size pruning them down to about 18" above the ground in spring is perfectly acceptable.

If size isn't a concern let them go...but they may require a rejuvination after 5 years.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 5:14PM
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thanks for the reply my goal is to get them big but full. Right now since this was the first large growth they look spindly. I wasn't sure if they should look this way or I need to cut them back to make them more full. and it so how do I do it? how much?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 5:57PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Prune back about 12" (not 12" to the ground) at anytime, except for late in the growing season (early spring before bud break would make the most sense). That will allow it to get fuller.

I planted 3 of these and yes the first year they looked "spindly". By the 2nd / 3rd year they where growing like gangbusters.

Pruning in the middle of growing season makes for more interest as the new emerging foilage has a light red hue to hit (like the stems).

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 7:55PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i NEVER prune a shrub for the first two years.. let them grow some roots.. and get themselves growing..

I WOULD NEVER... EVER.... prune a SHRUB at height .... been there.. done that.. oops ...

either let them do their own thing..

or remove the ugliest 1/3 of the branches ... as close to the ground as you can ....

if you think of a single cane... it will grow in a manner that it can support itself at height ....

once you prune it off out 3 feet .. then 2.. 4...6...8...10 ... new branches will form at height.. and in a year or two.. the whole branch will collapse ... in other words.. it will prune itself at ground level .... lol ...

listen.. you have three .... you learn by practicing.. and experimenting ...

leave one alone ....

on the second.... remove one or two of the ugliest branches as close to the ground as you can ...

on the third... try 12 inches from the end ...

report back in 5 years ... lol ... i would bet a shiny nickle.. that the one properly pruned.. according to SHRUB RENOVATION RULES [remove 1/3] ... will look the best.. be the most carefree .... and somewhere in between you will have fixed the errors on the other two ... by using the 1/3 rule ...

the ONLY PROBLEM with your NEW TRANSPLANTS.. is your expectations of what they should look like.. less than a year since you planted them ...

the first lesson a novice MUST LEARN.. is that ma nature works on her time frame... NOT YOURS .... relax ... be the shrub .... if its alive.. you are on the road to success ....

BTW.. you can NOT kill a willow.. so dont go worrying about that ... you WILL BE beating it back with a stick in a year or two ... especially if you just leave them alone ....

LESSON 2: more leaves.. means more food production.. means more roots.. means faster getting 'established' .. means a better plant ... given enough time to do its OWN thing ....

good luck


    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 1:30PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Ken, agree with everything. Except...the remove 1/3 rule doesn't apply to all shrubs.

For example potentilla, some willow shrubs (like the one in question) and some spirea.

They respond better pruning them back about 12" to the ground....then taking 1/3rd of the largest canes all the way to the ground.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 9:07PM
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The rabbits have pruned my bushes way back. Any suggestions or are they dead?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 2:41PM
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so my willow bush was doing so great that I had to move it, it was covering my windows with its brilliant foliage. Its in the ground in the new locationnow and totally brown ! so sad! did i kill it or is it just in shock? please tell me itll come back.. i think i lost a root or two..

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 4:06PM
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These are 4 months old, some are 6ft already, wanted privacy between house next door, I am happy so far.....the nursery was Burgess and they call them super hardy hybrid willows (salix hybrid)

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 2:10PM
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