When I bought my home there was a scraggly old willow by the stream in front of the house, which has since died. I wanted to replace it, so in the late fall I took some cuttings from a willow on a neighboring property, following directions in the Rodale Ultimate Encylcopedia of Organic Gardening. I had heard that willows are very easy to root, and according to Rodale all you had to do was leave the cuttings in water for a while. It said to take 4- to 8-inch cuttings from 1-year old wood, a few inches from the terminal bud. I wasn’t sure how to identify 1-year-old wood, but that’s what I tried to do, and took a few in different sizes. I even added some 1-inch pieces of leftover cuttings to one of the containers, since I’d read that pieces of willow can be used to make “willow water” for rooting other kinds of cuttings.
When no roots appeared after about a month I was beginning to lose hope. I consulted a few other sources, which recommended larger cuttings and included other instructions that only confused me. But one source included the words “eventually they will root.” I concluded that “eventually” meant it could take a long time, and that patience was the key. Sure enough, after 56 days I found my largest cutting had grown a nice little root:
Over the next week or so two others began to root. I now have them all in pots with seed-starting mix, and will probably plant them at the edge of the stream whenever there’s a good thaw—maybe this week? And since I wrote this, one that had green buds on it has put out a little root as well. I wonder if a frost would kill the buds at this point?