Willow Planting Instructions
GROWING WILLOW SUCCESSFULLY DEPENDS ON FIVE MAIN FACTORS
Site Location: Preparation: Weed Control: Spacing: Planting:
An open sunny site where willow will grow well, it prefers good moisture retentive soils ( with good drainage ) which remain damp all year round as willow thrives in such conditions. It will grow well in a wide variety of soils and is fairly tolerant with regard to soil pH. We grow on a loamy clay with a pH of 6.2 – 7.0 approx.
NB The colour of the willow will vary slightly depending upon the soil type and pH value.
CAUTION DO NOT plant WILLOW close to buildings, walls, stone structures, drains & septic tanks where their roots may cause damage, as willow needs plenty of water and the roots actively seek it. We suggest a planting distance of 1.5 times the maximum height that the plant will be allowed to grow. This applies to cuttings, whips, rods and trees, especially the more vigorous varieties.
The soil should be free from grass weeds and other vegetation, this can be achieved either spraying overall with a contact or translocated herbicide or better still removing them by hand. The site needs to be cultivated to a minimum of 25.cm to provide a good free soil structure for the new willows to become established. It is advisable at this time to add some organic material at this time to give the willow a ready source of nutrients.We use organic farm yard manure.
Salix ( Willow) is in general is a vigorous species, however during the first two or three years it is important to minimize competition from weeds giving the new plants time to become established. There are four principal weed control alternatives:
Hand Weeding on small scale planting using a hoe is practical however it is time consuming which needs to be undertaken on a regular basis throughout the growing season and can be demanding.
Mowing is also an option for large plantings as it controls weeds between the rows and the clippings can be left behind as a form of mulching. This system increases the amount of natural insect life to thrive many of which are beneficial.
Mulching by using either landscape fabric or heavy grade silage sheeting, the landscape fabric has the advantage of letting rain water penetrate as well as near 100% weed control. Both materials are black and speed up the process of soil warming in spring. This method has the advantage of giving an early boost to spring growth as well as good moisture retention throughout.
Choice of spacing depends upon the vigour of the variety chosen and the size of the rods you want to produce and almost every grower will give slight variations dependent on their personal experience.
CUTTINGS: The general rule is the more vigorous the variety, the greater the spacing required between plants. For larger scale planting we use row widths 30 – 45 cms ( 12-18 inches ) with cuttings spaced between 30-50 cm ( 12-20 inches ) apart. However for planting in the garden these spacings can be much more flexible.
LIVING RODS: Spacing of approx.15 cm ( 6 inches ) is about average, however this can be greater or smaller depending on the type of structure and personal choice.
The best time for planting is from the middle of November until early April.
CUTTINGS: The cuttings we supply are 25-30 cm (10-12 inches ) in length and should be planted with the triangular shaped buds pointing upwards with at least three buds showing above ground level, which is on average 5 cm ( 2 inches ).
Make a vertical hole in the bed with a metal spike with a diameter at least equal to the cutting and to a depth of approx 25 cm ( 10 inches ). If planting through plastic etc. the spike will punch a hole through the sheet / fabric, thus leaving virtually no gap for weeds to grow through. Push the cutting into the ground first leaving a minimum of three buds showing
( about 5 cm ) 2 inches and firm the soil around it. If you are using mulch remember to allow for the depth of the mulch.