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Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

Posted by greenman28 7/8 (My Page) on
Mon, Jun 9, 08 at 17:08

Howdy!
I have a weeping willow that I'd like to prune.
I'm sure you can offer me some advice. Here's the willow:

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As you can see, it has sent out two roughly symmetrical whips. However, I want to keep this willow small. Should I prune it now, or should I support the growth and prune later?

Should I perhaps cut the branches all the way back down to the fork? Or should I cut back to a secondary leaflet? I was thinking of cutting back to where the space between the leaves is the shortest.

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Thanks!

The willow grows in a side yard (old dog run) that faces east-north-east - with an incense "cedar" and a couple of buckeyes.

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Josh


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

Hi, I've put off answering this because I wonder what you want it to look like in future. Most people grow this tree to eventually look like a weeping willow (duh :-) but if they want a small willow, shop for a smaller leaved variety, or even Ficus nerifolia (willow leaved) that has much smaller leaves. Are you going to let yours get bigger, train it to weep, etc, or grow it as a shohin, and hope leaves reduce when cut off? I would want mine to get somewhat larger, at least, and then encourage it to weep, even if I only kept a few branches (plus twigs). You have short internodes only because those haven't yet grown out, but they won't always stay that way. You can select to grow just one 'trunk' or not, or cut one halfway and let it branch again from there. More info from you please!


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RE: Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

Thanks, Lucy! I appreciate it!
I guess my main concern is that if I cut the whips too long, they might develop new growth toward the tips - which would weigh the whips down further. My goal is to get this little stalk somewhat 'bushy' at its current height.

I have a few different final shapes in mind, for years down the road - I'll sketch them out and post them here later, then we can discuss the pro's and con's of each.

I had considered cutting the whole thing back down to the lowest growth, and letting it grow back up from there. But that might wait for next year, when the plant is in a larger volume of soil.

Josh


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RE: Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

Okay, thanks for your patience! Here I have a few simple sketches of some ideas I'm toying with. Obviously, I'm leaning toward the fourth solution. Forgive my left-handed approach to the page...I'm left-handed ;)

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RE: Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

'Lo again... So you want to have an informal upright weeping willow with long leaves, to have almost no foliage on it, and that to be very small? I'm sorry, I'm having a hard time getting my head around it... why you would have picked that tree to do this to, or am I still missing something?


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RE: Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

Ha! Great questions! And the answer, really, is "availability." I picked this tree the way I've picked incense "cedar," osage orange, buckeye, and oak...it's the stuff that grows within reach. I rooted some Pacific willows at the end of winter, and that worked so well that I thought I'd take some Weeping willow cuttings.

I do want foliage - I just didn't want to draw each leaf out on the sketch. Each of those "lines" represents a whip with leaves growing from it.

Sketch #3 would represent a newly-pruned tree, not a final form --- the goal would be to have numerous whips sprouting from the point of each cut.

Also, I'm not opposed to a taller tree or even, heaven forbid, a potted shrub (as some folks refer to American "bonsai" ;) ).

Thanks again!

Josh


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Weeping willow - after the cut

Well, I went ahead and made the cut!

I cut away a third of the length of each whip.

Now I can see that a new whip is swelling from the base of each leaf, just as I'd hoped.

Pics this weekend.

Josh


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RE: Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

Cool!


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RE: Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

Here's a slightly more detailed sketch of my idea for the next stage. I have Friday free during summer school, so I'll get an actual photo then! (I'm about to root-prune my Pacific willow, I'll try to remember to get pics of that adventure, too).

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RE: Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

A few shots of the willow, as of today, about an hour ago. I'll encourage some of the new growth forward to balance the top branches over the "trunk." I'll have to prune again in a month or so...maybe down to three inches above the fork. I've also noticed roots coming out of the bottom of the container into the water tray.
Oh yeah, and an old cat for scale ;)

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Weeping willow (pics)

Good morning! The willow's growth has proven to be amazing, as expected. I definitely need to cut it back further. Also, the roots are emerging from the bottom of the container, so I'll have to prune those as well. To start this series, I've included the "cat & willow" image from two weeks ago, then two updated cat & willow images from July 2nd (so nice of the old cat to show up at just the right moment!):

Two weeks ago - June 20th:
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Two weeks later - July 2nd:
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In location - this is where the willow sits all day, just behind an incense "cedar:"
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The backside of the willow:
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And, finally, a shot of those emerging roots:
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Josh


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RE: Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

Thanks for sharing. I am most interested in keeping up with your progress as I am looking to start a Weeping Willow in the near future. I have been out of the bonsai scene for some 15 years or so and am now getting back into it. Mark


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RE: Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

Thanks! I'll keep you updated!

Josh


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July 8th updates and images

Time for an update! Here we are, nearly a month later, and I've made my second set of cuts. I'm hoping, as before, that the pruning will cue the main "branches" to send out little whips.

Enjoy!

First shot: full thing, sorry for the poor backdrop.

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Second shot: close up of the main growth.
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Third shot: full thing, with requisite agd cat (notice, she isn't up and moving around in this 107F heat...).
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Fourth shot: pruned plant, and cat.
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So there you go. In two weeks, we'll see how much growth the plant has put on.

Josh


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RE: Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

Looking good there, you are making me want to go out and find one even more now. Although I don't think now is the best time to be digging one up and bringing it home. I am about to order some seeds from ebay. I have ordered some nursury stock that I am waiting on now.

I had ordered a Serissa Foetida from this place and all seems to be going good with it. I decided to try and make it a forest planting. So far so good. My cuttings, that I took off on the first cut to get it into the shape of a forest, they seem to be rooting quite nicely. I got impatient and replanted the two smallest in my new soil and checked on the roots. Woo hooo. they are there. I will have plenty of Serissas in the near future.

Anyway, keep up the updates. Its looking good. I do hope you are halfway prepared to cut that pot off from around those roots. I think by the time it gets to where it is the right season, there will be alot more of them. Theres a bunch already. Mark


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Weeping willow (pics) - update

Hey, Mark, I'm back with an update. First, I tore off all of those roots that were coming out the bottom of the pot...you can see the dried roots mulched on top of the pot (What the hell, I figured, good rooting hormone in those roots, right?). Now I'm waiting for the roots to grow back in force ;) These willows are just so vigorous - that's why I recommend them to folks who like to "work" on their plants. I gave a bunch of established cuttings away, and they're all doing well. My sister just pruned her willow - now we're waiting for each leaf to shoot out a whip.

Anyhow, I wish I had better pics, but these will have to do. Every cut is showing
new growth, and already I'm considering my next set of cuts. It's slowly coming
into focus, now that I'm seeing where my "branches" might be headed. I'll try to get
some better macro shots of the small, interior growth.
For now:

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Josh


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Weeping willow - end of July

*Update: July 31*

Here we go, a mere week later, and I made the decision to cut the willow back again. With the temperature dropping into the upper 80's/lower 90's, the plants have been growing like mad. I'd hoped to wait a few weeks, but that just isn't possible. I took several pictures, but I didn't have my tripod (so they're a bit blurry, sorry). On with the updates!

Before pruning --

Full shot:
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Top shot:
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On bench:
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Interior growth:
(Here, I tried to show some of the smaller branches, but the pics are blurry).

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After pruning --

Front shot:
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Back shot:
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More updates in a few weeks!

Josh


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Mid August Updates

*Update: August 14th*

Two weeks have elapsed, and here we are again. I brought the willow to the back deck (east-southeast) for more sun, and gave it a deeper water tray. The roots have returned to fill the tray, and are even "climbing" over the edge of the container. I've been keeping the drainage holes free, however. Pics taken this morning.

Back left:
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Left side:
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Right front:
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And now some shots of new growth...

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RE: Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

Hi, glad it's doing well, though I don't know why you just don't have it in the ground where the trunk will fatten faster. BTW, just a tip - it's not really necessary to post so many pix at once here - takes a while to load :-).


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Willow cutting

Update on the willow cutting:

When I made the first set of cuts, I decided to try and root one of the pieces - I had every faith that it would work, I just wanted to compare winter and summer rooting. Although the actual growth tip on the cutting didn't survive, a secondary bud - right at the soil line - took over. Here is the plant grown from that cutting. It is less than five inches at this point. Just this morning I happened to notice the little whip-lets...they must have burst very recently. I'll pot it this weekend.

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Josh


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Weeping willow

Sorry, Lucy! ;)
I'll post the clickable little thumb-nail pics for the next string of updates. Anyhow, thanks for stopping by. The tree should be in the ground, you're right, but I don't have a suitable spot yet...and I'm worried about its invasive attributes.

Josh


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8-19-08 - Willow

First pic is from the last update.


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Second pic is from this morning, similar angle.
As you can see, the nearest whip is quickly becoming the new leader. So, I'll have to prune it soon. I'm thinking of making a more drastic cut this time, perhaps eliminating most of the left side of the tree. The racoons have been helping me with the roots growing out the bottom of the container, but I'll do some internal root-pruning when I re-pot this weekend.
We've had a couple nice, cooler days.


Josh


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RE: Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

I'm sort of with Lucy on this one...of course you know I favor larger trees anyway. My 2 cents would be to pick what would be the final upward trunk and let it grow on, this will help to fatten the trunk quicker. Also, think about root over rock?? The tree is at the stage where this would cause very little shock. And, you've noticed that the roots will 'reach' for water? All you need it a rock, a tub and some protection for the upper part of the roots while the lower roots take off. Just a few thoughts.


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PS I made another cut

Yeah, this might end up a larger tree...I think you and Lucy are right. I have no problem with that, given the availability and vigor of this species. And the root over rock is a very good idea, considering this willow is growing in mostly rocks and gravel as it is. I'll go down to the creek later on, and hunt for a decent rock.

If I wanted this tree to "top out" somewhere around 2 - 2 1/2 feet, what size stone should I be looking for, in terms of balance and proportion?
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Also, I hacked that right-side branch off yesterday.
It looks much better already.

Josh


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Hacked it back

Well, after cutting off the "right arm" of the willow, I decided to cut off all of the other heavier, more established whips, too. Not much in the way of an update, but I don't have anything else too pressing this morning - the cats are fed, the plants are watered, the coffee is brewed, and the music is playing.... ;)

I also have some new ideas for the shaping of this plant, which I'll sketch up and post soon.

Josh


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RE: Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

Just wanted to say that I have been watching this thread for about a month. I am originally from Puerto Rico and have always loved willows. Now that I live in the US, it is the right climate for them, and I had the opportunity to grow one myself.

Right now I'm a student at the Baltimore Dental School, so I live in the city and I'm growing my willow bonsai style.

I have looked to this thread for insight into the growth patterns of the willow and inspiration into ways to adapt the growth of the tree.

I am anxiously waiting to see the future posts and how your tree is doing.

Herby


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RE: Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

Hey, Herby! Welcome aboard!
I'm so glad that this Thread has been useful! I'll take a few more pics in the days to come.

Most recently, I root-pruned and re-potted the willow in fresh "soil." The roots were a mess, from growing around rocks in the container, but I untangled them and saved as much as possible. With all of the rocks removed, there is more soil volume for the new roots to grow.

The willow will have to replace some of its roots before it resumes normal top-growth. I have faith that it will be fine.

So, Herby, what kind of willow do you have? Is it a Weeping willow, or a smaller leafed variety?

Josh


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RE: Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

Weeping willow. its leaves are about 4-5 inches long and its only about 14 inches tall.

I took 3 cuttings from a really big weeping willow and they all took, so now I have the three of them growing together. I plan on trimming it at the end of Sept, but I will put up pics before then. I have a test on friday and not much time to play with it :S

I also have an idea what I want it to end up looking like, but for the time being, Im letting it grow and get well established first


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RE: Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

Thought I would chime in on this wonderful thread, and ask for an update, Josh. Has it begun to drop it's leaves yet?

I received a rather large (1 to 1.5 inches thick) weepeing willow cutting that I am rooting in water. It threw roots out 2 days after being placed in the water. How many roots does it need before it can be planted and survive? There are buds swelling at the top of the cutting already. Here it is:

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Ryan


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RE: Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Oct 24, 10 at 17:04

I would have dipped the distal end in wax or coated it with cut paste and put it in the fridge in damp sand or Turface until all the trees were dormant. Then, I would have buried it in the garden or beds. In spring, after the frost is out of the ground, I would have dug it up and either potted or planted it.

Your tree will push foliage now, but it won't get mature enough to offer a return on the trees energy outlay, so the tree will wake up in spring with much lower energy reserves than if you had held off on rooting it. That may not be a big problem, because there are few trees with more genetic vigor than a willow, but it's not just vigor that comes into play. Vitality is also a key issue.

I probably would have rooted it in bonsai soil, too. Here is something I wrote about rooting in water vs rooting in a solid, well-aerated medium. Again though, the trees natural level of vigor may sail in to save the day:

Though roots form readily and often seemingly more quickly on many plants propagated in water, the roots produced are quite different from those produced in a soil-like or highly aerated medium (perlite - screened Turface - calcined DE - seed starting mix, e.g.). Physiologically, you will find these roots to be much more brittle than normal roots due to a much higher percentage of aerenchyma (a tissue with a greater percentage of inter-cellular air spaces than normal parenchyma).

Aerenchyma tissue is filled with airy compartments. It usually forms in already rooted plants as a result of highly selective cell death and dissolution in the root cortex in response to hypoxic (airless - low O2 levels) conditions in the rhizosphere (root zone). There are 2 types of aerenchymous tissue. One type is formed by cell differentiation and subsequent collapse, and the other type is formed by cell separation without collapse ( as in water-rooted plants). In both cases, the long continuous air spaces allow diffusion of oxygen (and probably ethylene) from shoots to roots that would normally be unavailable to plants with roots growing in hypoxic media. In fresh cuttings placed in water, aerenchymous tissue forms due to the same hypoxic conditions w/o cell death & dissolution.
Note too, that under hypoxic conditions, ethylene is necessary for aerenchyma to form. This parallels the fact that low oxygen concentrations, as found in water rooting, generally stimulate trees and other plants to produce ethylene. For a long while it was believed that high levels of ethylene stimulate adventitious root formation, but lots of recent research proves the reverse to be true. Under hypoxic conditions, like submergence in water, ethylene actually slows down adventitious root formation and elongation.

If you wish to eventually plant your rooted cuttings in soil, it is probably best not to root them in water because of the frequent difficulty in transplanting them to soil. The brittle "water-formed” roots often break during transplant & those that don't break are very poor at water absorption and often die. The effect is equivalent to beginning the cutting process over again with a cutting in which vitality has likely been reduced.
If you do a side by side comparison of cuttings rooted in water & cuttings rooted in soil, the cuttings in soil will always (for an extremely high percentage of plants) have a leg up in development on those moved from water to a soil medium for the reasons outlined above.

Al


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RE: Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

Wow thank you for that Al! That is a lot of well said information. However, I always root my Willow cuttings in water and, knock on wood, I have never had a problem with them dying once planted with their "water roots". I'll pot this up in a few days, once the roots are longer and can support more of the tree. Or should I pot it up now with the smaller amount of roots?


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RE: Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

Hey, Ryan and Al!
Ryan, my Willows are just starting to lose a few yellow leaves.
I'll bump the 2010 Willow Thread for some update pics. By the way,
that's an awesome piece of Willow you have.

Al, thanks for posting that info here.


Josh


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RE: Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

My neighbor had their old Weeping Willow tree fall down, and I helped my brother to cut it up and haul it away. Only, I kept some of the logs from this thing. I managed to get 5 cuttings of different sizes. The 2 larger ones are a couple of inches thick, and the smaller ones are about an inch thick. Also, this seems to be a different Willo species than the one I posted here earlier. The leaves look very different, and so does the bark. Here you go:

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Ryan

P.S. Sorry for hijacking the thread Josh!


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RE: Weeping willow (pics) - advice needed

Hey, Ryan!
No worries. I appreciate the discussion!

By the way, I got a couple crappy pics of the Willows I've worked with. Mine is now losing leaves.

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The cutting that I grew for my Marine buddy is looking excellent, however. He lives at a lower
elevation (warmer in general), and his Willow continues to put out new, green growth. Of course, we
re-potted his Willow a short time ago....and the new mix and fertilizer kicked it into gear.
This is what the plant looked like back in May:

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After a couple months of growing wild, it looked like this.

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Unfortunately, it wasn't re-potted in time.
My buddy, Jon, also left the wire on the trunk for too long, and it made some pretty radical scars.
He also over and under watered the container until the leaves were yellowed and dropping rapidly.
So I had to act fast. I mixed Turface, Bark, Perlite, and Pumice, a small amount of Dolomitic Lime,
and a shake of Osmocote slow-release. Re-potted (roots pruned and soil removed) the Willow in this
interesting container that I bought at Pottery World (Rocklin, California), and it immediately
responded. This is what it looked like just after re-potting - yellowed, scarred, sickly.

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And then here a few more recent pics, showing how it's bounced back:

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Josh


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