How to Prune Willow Bushes

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There are about 400 willow species and 200 known hybrids worldwide, according to the book "Willows: The Genus Salix." Of these plants, there are both tree and bush varieties. Most willow bushes belong to the subgenus Caprisalix. Trimming Caprisalix willows is straightforward, as shrubby willows do not require much regular pruning. Willow bushes only need occasional pruning to excise wilted branches and promote new springtime growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Prune wilted branches as needed throughout the year. Willow bushes are hardy and don't need much ongoing maintenance, but wilted branches suck excess nutrients from healthy stalks. The rest of the plant perks up once you cut the wilted parts.

  • Cut back old growth in spring. Removing old stalks is called "hard cutting," and it helps the plant produce new, vibrant stalks during the growing season. Trim stalks more than one year old close to the ground, leaving only the freshest, greenest branches intact. If you're happy with the willow bush's current size, you don't need to cut off old growth.

  • Trim away winter-damaged stalks during springtime. Hard cutting is optional, but springtime maintenance helps keep the plant healthy. Branches snapped or strained from snowfall are a burden to your willow, and you need to excise these branches.

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References

  • "Willows: The Genus Salix"; Christopher Newsholme; 2003
  • "The Complete Book of Pruning"; Roger Bentley, et al.; 2001
  • "The Pruning Book: Completely Revised and Updated"; Lee Reich; 2010
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