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Everything You Need to Know About Weeping Willow Trees

Weeping willow trees are a classic for a reason—these gently arching beauties add drama and elegance to any landscape.

Weeping Willow Adobe

Weeping willow trees have long been prized for their delicate, weeping branches that graze the ground with fluttering, silver-tinged leaves. Their form flows into a pleasing, round canopy. Not only do they provide food for rabbits and deer, their branches are ideal for nesting birds. Weeping willows do very well planted near water, where they can prevent soil erosion.

Weeping Willow Trees at a Glance

  • Classic, graceful shape
  • Help prevent soil erosion
  • Tolerate many soil types
  • Leaves turn warm yellow in the fall
  • Provides excellent shade
  • Prone to pest issues

Appearance

Weeping willow trees are famed for their dramatic, elegant appearance. Their long, graceful branches “weep” into an arch, creating a round canopy that grazes the ground gently. Their narrow leaves are light green on top, with silvery undersides until they turn yellow in autumn. The bark is rough, gray, and ridged. Yellow flowers bloom in late winter or spring.

Weeping willow trees grow to be 30-50 feet tall, with a spread of roughly 30-40 feet.

Specifications

Appearance Graceful, ground-sweeping branches form a rounded shape. Long, narrow, light-green leaves with silvery undersides that turn yellow in fall. Yellow flowers in late winter/spring
Appearance Graceful, ground-sweeping branches form a rounded shape. Long, narrow, light-green leaves with silvery undersides that turn yellow in fall. Yellow flowers in late winter/spring
Height 30-50 feet
Hardiness Zones Zones 4-10
Type of tree Deciduous
Sunlight requirements Full sun to partial shade
Soil composition Widely adaptable, but prefers slightly acidic, well-draining, and moist soil

Hardiness Zones

USDA Hardiness Zones indicate the regions where different plants grow best, depending on their lowest winter temperatures. Weeping willows thrive in Zones 4-10, across most of the country.

Planting

Choose a growing site that receives full sun to partial shade, with moist, well-draining, slightly acidic soil. Pull any weeds and remove any turfgrass and debris. Do not plant near any underground power lines or sewers, since weeping willows have very long roots.

Dig a whole twice the width of your root ball, but about the same depth. Take the root ball out of the container and gently tease apart its roots, then place it in the middle of the hole. Backfill the hole with soil halfway, then pour 2 gallons of water into it. Finish filling the hole with soil, tamping down lightly to remove any air bubbles.

Weeping willow trees grow very well when planted near water, such as ponds or streams.

Growing Conditions

Weeping willow trees can thrive in full sun to partial shade, and are tolerant of many soil types.

Sun and shade

Weeping willow trees flourish in full sun to partial shade, meaning they need at least four hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight per day.

Soil

Weeping willows are tolerant of many soil types, including alkaline, loamy, sandy, and clay soils. However, their preference is for moist, well-draining, slightly acidic soils. If your soil is too alkaline, you can make it more acidic by amending it with sulfur.

Watering

You need to water your weeping willow weekly for the first year after planting. Afterwards, you only need to water it enough so that the soil doesn’t dry out. You can test this by sticking your index finger into the surrounding soil. If the top two inches don’t feel moist, you need to water.

Fertilizing

In general, weeping willows do not need fertilizer to grow healthy and hardy. If your weeping willow tree’s leaves are looking pale, you can apply a balanced fertilizer, with an NPK ratio of 20-20-20, in spring.

Pruning

For best growth, prune your weeping willow when it is young, cutting it so that there is one central leader. Snipping back all branches in late winter or early spring is advisable, because it will encourage new branch growth and invigorate your tree.

Disease and pest issues

Weeping willows are susceptible to willow scab, willow blight, black canker, fungi, powdery mildew, root rot, and more. Pest issues include aphids, gypsy moths, and borers. Targeted spraying can help alleviate this issue.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where should I plant them?

Weeping willow trees do best when planted in areas that receive full sun to partial shade, in slightly acidic, moist soil. They should only be planted in Hardiness Zones 4-10.

How far should I plant one from my house?

Make sure to plant your weeping willow at least 50 feet away from your house.

Do they have problems?

Weeping willows can have lots of pest and disease issues, and they can invade underground pipes and powerlines.

Are all willow trees weeping?

No, some of them have more traditional shapes.

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