Everything You Need to Know About Weeping Willow Trees
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
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.
|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|
Type of tree
Full sun to partial shade
Widely adaptable, but prefers slightly acidic, well-draining, and moist soil
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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