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Everything You Need to Know About Willow Hybrid Trees

Hybrid willow trees are exceptionally fast-growing, perfect for giving you the lush, living privacy screen you want in just a few years.

Hybrid willow tree in field. iStock

Willow hybrid trees, also known as Austree willows, grow a staggering 6-10 feet per year, creating a dense, living privacy screen that can block out unsightly views and unwanted noise in a few short years. They can grow to a towering height of 50-75 feet, much taller than most neighborhood regulations allow traditional fences to be. Willow hybrid trees also act as a great windbreak even in winter when they have no leaves, because their branch pattern is so dense.

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance answer to your needs, willow hybrid trees might be a good fit for you.

Willow Hybrid Trees at a Glance

  • Fast-growing
  • Tall privacy screen or windbreak
  • Disease-resistant
  • Helps reduce soil erosion
  • Cold-hardy

Appearance

Willow hybrid trees grow long, upright branches with slim, narrow leaves that have light green tops that are paler green on the bottom. The trees grow at a fast rate of 6-10 feet per year, quickly reaching their maximum height of 50-75 feet tall. Their maximum spread is 20-30 feet.

Specification

Appearance Long, upright branches and narrow green leaves with light green tops and paler green undersides
Appearance Long, upright branches and narrow green leaves with light green tops and paler green undersides
Height 50-75 feet
Hardiness Zones Zones 4-9
Type of tree Deciduous
Sunlight requirements Full sun to partial shade
Soil composition Highly adaptable but prefers slightly acidic or slightly alkaline moist, well-draining soil

Hardiness Zones

USDA Hardiness Zones indicate the regions where plants can grow based on minimum winter temperatures. Willow hybrid trees grow in Zones 4-9, which covers almost the entire country, with exceptions like southern Florida and Minnesota.

Planting

The best time to plant willow hybrid trees are spring and fall. We recommend following these steps:

  • Choose a planting site that receives at least four hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight per day. You don’t need to worry about finding a site that’s sheltered from wind, since hybrid willows act as a vigorous windbreak.
  • Clear away any turfgrass, debris, or weeds.
  • Dig a hole the same depth as the root ball and twice the width.
  • Remove the root ball from the container and place it in the center of the hole.
  • Backfill with soil halfway, then water thoroughly. Finish backfilling once the water drains away, tamping down as you go to eliminate any air pockets.
  • Apply a 1-2 inch layer of mulch on the root zone, making sure to keep it away from the trunk.

To plant a dense privacy screen, space your willow hybrid trees three feet apart. If you want to create a windbreak, plant a staggered, double row of trees five feet apart in a zig-zag pattern.

Growing Conditions

Willow hybrids are hardy trees that can thrive in a wide variety of soil conditions and do well in both full sun and partial shade.

Sun and shade

Willow hybrid trees grow in full sun, or at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight per day. They can also grow in partial shade, which is roughly four hours of direct sunlight.

Soil

Hybrid willow trees are highly adaptable to a range of soil compositions and pH levels but prefer slightly acidic or slightly alkaline to neutral. The soil must be moist and well-draining. Because willow hybrids are not drought-tolerant, they benefit from a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around their root zone.

Watering

You should water newly planted willow hybrids twice a week for two to three months. After that, these trees need deep, irregular watering of about one inch per week, with slightly more given during hot, dry spells in summer.

Fertilizing

Feed your hybrid willow tree annually in early spring, as soon as new growth emerges. Use a slow-release, balanced fertilizer with an NPK value of 10-10-10.

Pruning

Willow hybrid trees do not require pruning in order to maintain their shape. They are considered to be self-pruning, meaning the wind will take care of any overlong branches, so they will fall off naturally.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do they lose their leaves?

Yes, willow hybrid trees are deciduous and lose their leaves.

How far apart do you plant them?

That depends on the look you want to achieve. To create a dense privacy screen, plant your willow trees three feet apart. If you want to plant a windbreak, plant a staggered, double row of trees five feet apart in a zig-zag pattern.

How tall do they grow?

Willow hybrid trees grow to 50-75 feet tall.

Do they need a lot of sun?

Willow hybrids can grow in both full sun and partial shade.

Are their roots invasive?

Since they’re rapidly growing trees, willow hybrids have very strong roots that are often used to fortify soil and prevent erosion. With that in mind, they can be invasive, damaging any underground piping or wiring that gets it their way.

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