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Questions about propagating a willow tree cutting

 
Posts: 106
Location: Central Indiana
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Some background:

We have a large willow in the corner of the property that both my wife and i love.  This summer a large limb split and fell off of it.  The willow is old and probably nearing the end of it's life.  The day it fell i took some cuttings off of the broken limb.  I placed them in water.  Only one ended up putting on roots before it died.  I have pictures of the roots and new bud leaves it has started as well as the whole limb in container.

My question:

How long do i leave it in the water before i put it in soil of some type?
What type of soil do i put it in?
How wet do i keep said soil?

I know willows like it wet and i'm guessing it could probably survive in a pot for a few years (if the pot is big enough) before i need to put it in the ground somewhere.  Any thoughts on this would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
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New Roots
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New Buds
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Whole thing. You can see the older willow in the background (barely).
 
master steward
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I suspect you could leave it in water for another week (changing the water before it gets funky) and then pot it up or plant it.  But I'm hoping someone with more knowledge comes along to give you a more informed opinion.

On a side note, are you sure the willow is old?  My folks had a huge weeping willow overhanging their house so they paid a ton to have it cut down. It had 6 branches starting 6' off the ground and the diameter at the ground was over 4'.  They are on a very wet site so it was in ideal conditions.  The tree cutter thought the tree would be old and hollow inside.  Well, it was solid and only 32 years old.  Still probably good to not have hanging over the house but it was amazingly young for its size.
 
Jonathan Ward
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It was in place when the neighborhood was build 35yrs ago and was big then.  i was thinking about another week in the cup then on to a pot but wasn't sure.  I also assumed i'd need to keep the pot fairly wet since the roots were grown in water.
 
pollinator
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Location: Vermont, annual average precipitation is 39.87 Inches
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Willow roots grown in water are pretty weak.  They will break off pretty easily when you try to get it in the ground.  For willow cutting planting expertise, I go here:  https://www.willowsvermont.com/planting-instructions.html   The good news is you can certainly take more cuttings from the tree to try again.  It won't hurt the tree as willows can be copiced annually when harvested for basketry and other uses.
 
Jonathan Ward
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Thanks so much for the info.  I'll do my best to be careful transplanting it.  If it fails i'll just grab a cutting and follow the directions in your link.  Thanks again .
 
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I just stick mine in the ground without rooting.  I tried a batch of 70 some willow in a bucket and all of the roots came off when I planted (the plants did survive but I figure this is extra energy expended by the plant because it has to push roots a second time.)  Willows are super plants and will grow quite easily by just sticking

them in the ground.  When the moisture level is up you can even have willows root from cuttings in a pile.

Here is a shot of 20 basket weaving willows I planted last year just sticking them in the ground.  One suggestion I would make, willows do not like to compete with other plants when they start especially grass.   At least in my area deer love willow and will actually pull a plant up so protect them if you have deer pressure.

To plant the willows in the picture I put weed cover down, poked holes with a screwdriver, pushed the willows in and covered with wood chips.







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Various Basket willows planted from very small cuttings (last year).
 
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You just want to have it trimmed to even it up the largest i have ever seen were over 6'  in diameter at chest high they can live a very long time in the right location.
 
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Jonathan Ward wrote:It was in place when the neighborhood was build 35yrs ago and was big then.  i was thinking about another week in the cup then on to a pot but wasn't sure.  I also assumed i'd need to keep the pot fairly wet since the roots were grown in water.



If you have some sand or vermiculite, plant that whip now into a decent sized pot (6" or larger). The sand or vermiculite will help protect the fragile roots and it will also encourage them to harden up and become less brittle and also stronger and able to later on survive transplant into soil.

Redhawk
 
Jonathan Ward
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Redhawk,  The cutting is probably about 15in long.  If i want to put it in a post and wait until next year to put it in the ground, about how big of a pot do i need?  I might have some sand sitting around somewhere that i can use when i pot it.  Thanks everyone for the great information.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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A pot that is 6 inches in diameter up to a 10 inch pot would be a good size for a single years growth of the roots.
That way they are contained enough to form a good root ball for transplanting (will lift from the container easily with no crumbling off of the potting medium).
If you have any mycorrhizae do add some to the roots as you plant it up, that will almost guarantee good roots and viability of the whip (what a "stick tree" is called).

Good luck and good planting Jonathan

Redhawk
 
Jonathan Ward
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Took everyone's advice.  It has been planted and mixed it with some sand to help fortify the roots.  I did trim a bit of the bottom of the stick off where there were no roots.  The full size stick was too tall for the pot.  the roots are about mid-pot so it should still have room for more roots on top and bottom.  If anything changes i'll toss an update but so far it looks great.  Thanks Everyone!
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Now planted
 
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