Saturday, 9 July 2016

Growing twisted willow...

Willow is probably one of the easiest trees to take cuttings from, the cuttings will grow quickly and as such it's any easy way of increasing your trees, or making fencing / hedging with, or if you're feeling adventurous why not try growing it into a sculpture of some kind, you may be surprised at how versatile it is for making garden structures.

To take cuttings all you need is some sticks from a willow and a jar or bucket, depending on how big the cuttings are, in my case I'm using cuttings from our two twisted (corkscrew) willow trees (Salix Tortuosa)

Left over from a light prune -

Some good cutting material in this lot.

What I usually do is to cut up what ever I have into pieces about six to eight inches long, and I usually select pieces that are about half an inch thick for cuttings, you can how ever get pieces that are over an inch thick to root just as easily.

Cuttings prepared - 

Straighter pieces will fit into a jar better.

Next all I do is tie the prepared twigs together and put them into a jar of water and leave them some where warmish, a green house would do, or if it's summer they should be okay outside, if you use a glass jar keep it out of direct sunlight.

I do at the moment have some cuttings in a bucket in the garden that are about two feet long and over an inch thick and they have rooted well, so you can use a bucket and longer cuttings if you want larger plants quicker.

Cuttings in a jar of water - 

Just wait for a week or so.

After a week or so you may start to notice white bumps forming on the part of the cutting that's under the water, this is where the roots will sprout from.

White bumps, they soon turn into roots - 

Not the best picture, but you can see where roots are forming.

And in no time roots sprout - 

We have roots.

The temptation might be to plant once the roots start to grow, but I prefer to wait until the lateral roots appear, mainly because it's the lateral roots that help to anchor the plant, and because the more roots the merrier, in my experience they will grow better if planted once there are lateral roots on each cutting.

Lateral roots forming - 

You can just make them out on left.

You should also have some new growth from the other end of the cutting in the form of new shoots and leaves, this is good sign that the plant will continue to grow once potted up.

New growth - 

We have success.

Once I am sure that the cuttings have a good amount of roots and new growth I pot them up into plastic pots, I tend to use smallish ones because I have limited space, but medium pots would be okay, as for compost I mostly use a general purpose compost mixed with either some horticultural grit or a hand full of horticultural sand to help with drainage.

All potted up - 

Add caption

And then I leave them to see if they survive, generally speaking you can't really go wrong with willow, I have seen people just stick the cuttings straight into the ground and as long as they are kept watered they should grow, this is handy for making natural fences as you can place your cuttings in a line and let them grow into a fence.

Here are some I did last year - 

They are growing nicely.

These ones I'm attempting to turn into bonsai trees - 

I'll have to see if they work.

What could be easier ? you can use this method for other types of tree, I've read a lot of gardening related things and seen people do it with fruit wood cuttings (apples, plums etc) I have also managed to use this method to get holly cuttings to grow.

The only difference is that with willows you don't really need to change the water, maybe if it starts to smell change it but I've found you can leave it quite a while between changing, this is not the case for other trees, which seem to need a water change at the very least once a week, at least in my experience, this maybe down to the fact willows contain salicylic acid (think aspirin) and this may help to keep the water cleaner for longer.

Thanks for reading.

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