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Do Willows grow from cuttings?

 
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Quick question, does anyone know if willows grow from cuttings?

I lost a willow a couple of years ago and I want to replace it.  I have plenty of other willows and I wonder if I can just cut and stick in the ground.

Thanks in advance,

Eric
 
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This feels a bit like a setup... :P

Yes, willows grow from cuttings. Notoriously so in fact!

There is a reason why willow water is used as a rooting accelerator!  Cut year old sticks. Shove them in the ground. They will root. You'll probably get 90% or better success rate with no more care than that.

Don't use willow sticks as, eg supports for peas and beans unless you want a willow tree in that spot!
 
Eric Hanson
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Thanks Michael!

I was pretty certain they would.  But I cannot say why I knew this.

Thanks a bunch,

Eric
 
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Yes! Easy peasy. Do it in late winter while they are still dormant and the leaf buds haven't started to swell. Keep the cutting well watered for the first season because it doesn't have much roots yet.
 
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They couldn't be easier.  To give them a jump start, I keep them in a jar of water for 2 or 3 weeks after they root. As soon as the roots are a couple inches long, I cut them back to an inch. This causes a lot more roots to form. I also change the water every few days. Otherwise, stick them in the ground, keep them watered, and don't stand over them. They grow so easily you may be skewered 😊
 
Eric Hanson
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Rebecca,

This sounds like a perfect project for right now in my parts.  We are having an extremely mild winter.

Eric
 
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Bonus -

When you start a bunch of willows in water, don't change the water, SAVE the water. You can use it as a rooting pheromone for other plants.
 
Rebecca Norman
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I found it was as successful to plant the cuttings immediately as to soak the bottoms in water for a couple of weeks as local people here recommended. If you have to keep the cuttings for more than an hour between cutting and planting, then by all means do keep the bottoms in water.

We have heavy grazer and browser pressure here, so we plant cuttings that are 2 to 4 inches in diameter, and at least 6 feet long so that 1.5 feet goes underground and ideally 5 to 7 feet above ground. Much shorter above ground would probably be even more successful but we can't do that here. Don't mix any compost or manure into the soil when you plant the cuttings. That makes failure more likely.
 
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This is my story from last summer.  I have the plant in a pot to over winter then it's going into the ground should it have survived outside all winter.  Thus far it still looks good.

https://permies.com/t/119077/Questions-propagating-willow-tree-cutting

Hope it helps.

 
Eric Hanson
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Everyone,

I just had to add here that I already knew that willows are extremely resilient trees.  Growing up (I think I was about 10) we had a willow growing near a ditch/ravine that headed into a pasture.  The trees would have been of no consequence if not for the fact that it’s roots were growing into a drainage tile and seriously backing up a lot of water discharge from upstream.  

We cut the tree down several times only to have it pop right back up.  We tried digging up roots but could never get them all and the willow popped up to say hello and thanks again.

Eventually we did happen on to a solution, but it was a bit drastic (don’t worry, no herbicides involved).  We cut the willow down to ground level, then we brought over several bags of charcoal and lit them right on top of the root mass.  Still not convinced, we (including several neighbors) brought over a LOT of trimmed wood and threw it on the ember bed left by the charcoal.  This included some walnut firewood that was filled with ants.  The fire burned none stop for about 10 days when we did not so much give up but rather ran out of fuel.  

The willow gave up at last.

So I knew that willow is hard to kill, now I know it is easy to start as well.

Eric
 
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Super easy to start. I cut about 100, 2.5 ft whips last October for a mini fridge & didn't have time to plant them so I stuck them in a 5 gallon bucket of water & promptly forgot about them (or, at least bumped them way down on the priority list). Now they've got roots all in the bucket and a few are starting to leaf out with the longer/warmer days we've been having. The only water added to the bucket is the rainwater that's run off the barn roof.
Most of my willow trimmings came from the side of the road, as well as my cottonwood, Osage orange, and various other cuttings, seeds, and root pieces.

I've recently been sticking a few of the willow whips in spots where I need something that grows fast for shade & forage, and they're all doing fine. Now that I finally have the hog panel up for the new pig pen, I think I'm going to stick the others along the outside of the panel, and weave together for a small "fedge."
They do tend to like water, so might be worth digging a trench to line with rotting wood & other OM to plant them over like a mini hugel. That should last a couple of years, until they can get a good root system established.

**Sorry, didn't mean to get off track with my own brainstorming 🤦🏻‍♂️
 
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There are many kind of willows. I am growing two kinds in my garden. One that have a yellow skin that turns red it tends to get thick branches and one that grows thinner branches with a small number of side branches , good for basket weaving.
I want lots to act as a windbreak. The problem is, they're very easy to root, i wouldn't know something easier, i keep them all year round in my cuttings section's rainwaterbarrel, sticking out, their roots in water which i use to sprinkle on the cuttings, it contains a hormone that advances general root forming.
Last year i've stuck loads in the ground in hedges, but most died, because of the record drought. Despite watering them now and then. This year i've filled in the hedges again, hoping for less drought, but as well i've started a nurserie under the oak trees on the north side next to the water reservoir ditch that fills up with heavy rain fall.
WILLOWNURSERIE.jpg
[Thumbnail for WILLOWNURSERIE.jpg]
 
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I actually planted 2 willows from cuttings just yesterday. Took two cuttings of about 2,5 meters and about two fingers thick.
Planted them about half a meter into the earth with some mud rich in algae on the bark to keep them from drying out too fast in our rocky soil.
Although it’s hard to screw up cuttings from a willow, I’ve read it is best to take your cuttings on days of a full moon, when most of the strength of the plant is in it’s branches. Planting the cuttings is best during waning moon, when the strength goes into the roots! We’ll see if I did my job well if these two take root.
98B2D9E1-A3AD-400A-9BFA-841518B9A283.jpeg
Two willow cuttings planted to fortify the banks of the creek. On the other side of the creek you can see one of the older willows where the cuttings came from.
Two willow cuttings planted to fortify the banks of the creek. On the other side of the creek you can see one of the older willows where the cuttings came from.
 
Hugo Morvan
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I think it will work S Bard. Having done loads of willow i noticed after replacing them , their roots don't form very deep from the surface like a feet the most roots have formed after a year. The more foliage they develop , the more water they need, the higher that foliage is sitting, the higher it needs to be pumped, which cost energy as well. Next to that small stream i guess you'l be alright, but it won't hurt to cut of a branch, divide in pieces of a foot and and push them in the soil. Just to be sure not to lose time.
 
S. Bard
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Thanks Hugo Morvan!
I was indeed wondering if I needed to trim the length of the cutting, but had people tell me to just take the branch as is, without making extra cuts that could damage or lead to infections. Just see whatever takes hold and then trim the next year to the desired height. Unfortunately for us, there’s no ‘pushing into the soil’ anything on this particular piece of land. The soil here is about 70-90% rock (I’m not kidding, it’s depressing!)so I had to dig wide holes with a pick axe first, add some organic material in the bottom and then fill up the hole with some imported fertile soil. Here’s hoping the roots have about 2 feet circumference of fertile ground to root in in the first years, and then hope they are strong enough to dig their own way trough the difficult soil in the next.
As for the water, I’m not too worried, hard to tell from this angle of the photo but the stream is actually about 1,5 to 2 feet deep closer to the bank where I put the new cuttings, which is also why I needed to put trees there as the water is starting to dig underneath the soil there, eroding the banks.

I have read about using willow cuttings and pushing them into the banks of creeks to stabilise them, creating a living wall, but I’m wondering how efficient that could be.

Sorry if I’m deviating from the topic btw!
BE59EC56-7A70-4DA6-B1D3-A7278B7350B8.jpeg
[Thumbnail for BE59EC56-7A70-4DA6-B1D3-A7278B7350B8.jpeg]
Not my picture, found it online as a reference for planting willow sticks as reinforcement of banks.
 
Hugo Morvan
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Let's deviate and hope they don't notice! Against erosion of streams here they plant alders as well. They do good next to water and are great soil builders because of nitrogen fixing nodules. They need nothing and the leaves leave a beautiful rich soil underneath.I've bought some Italian Alders this year, they can stand more drought.
On topic, i don't know about wounds being so bad for willow. I cut mine every year completely. I've killed one after cutting it three times in one year. But one wound? I always figured that's how they propagate, breaking off and sending a branch downstream which get stuck in some impossible place and starts to grow. I guess if your willow isn't happy it will just auto prune the upper branches.
That's a serious willow river bank saver, i'd love to see follow up photos of that!
 
S. Bard
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Oh, Italian Alders, haven’t heard of those yet! I’ll make sure to look it up, thanks Hugo!
On the topic of the willow river bank walls, I’m considering building one myself as well once I’ve trimmed the willows. My main reason would be to try and use the natural live willow wall (instead of a dry stone wall or wood boarding) to raise and level my bank (which is now sloping rather unpleasantly) I want to make a path of about half a meter wide alongside the creek, so I can maintain the river bank and keep it free of those pesky brambles shooting up everywhere. I wonder if the willow cuttings, once rooted and grown thicker (and maybe weaving the new shoots between them), would be strong enough to support the added weight of the earth to create a level path.
 
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