Planting a Willow Cutting

Reader Contribution by Jennifer Quinn
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This winter I wrote about successfully rooting a willow cutting I had collected in the fall with the hope of starting a new willow tree on my stream bank. Since it was late January by the time the first one had a good root on it, I wasn’t sure when would be a safe time to plant it outside, so I just potted it up for the time being. I did the same with a few smaller ones that later began to root.

For some reason, on February 15 I decided it would be a good time to plant the first, larger cutting. (Maybe it was the balmy weather?) Anyway, I thought planting them in late winter would give them a chance to grow their roots a bit before the arrival of warm weather and bright sunlight. When freezing weather returned I began to worry this might damage the roots, so I scrounged up an old laundry basket with the bottom out, and used it to mulch around the cutting with several inches of dead leaves and weeds. Meanwhile, I had planted the other cuttings nearby, but mulching them seemed impractical, so I just let them be.

Come springtime I began anxiously watching for signs of life on the larger cutting, and — sure enough — soon there was a green shoot at the top. Now, as of April 23, it’s really leafing out:

The others still have little reddish buds on them but haven’t as yet shown any signs of life. I expect they will in time, but no matter — at least it looks like I’ll have one new tree!

Photo property of Jennifer Quinn.

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