The weeping willow tree is not native to the United States. It originated in China but now grows all over the world. The weeping willow can grow as high as 70 feet and thrives in moist soil. It gets its name from the way the branches droop downward from the crown of the tree. The care of the weeping willow involves where to locate it, how often to water it, when to prune it and other contributions to its overall health.
Carefully consider where to locate your weeping willow tree. You must take into account that the root system will extend out from the tree a long distance. Never plant a weeping willow near sewer lines, septic tanks or close to foundations. The roots will infiltrate these areas and potentially cause damage. Sidewalks and driveways are also at risk from roots. If possible, plant the tree by a pond or spring on your property. Weeping willows do best in full sun, but they can survive where there is slight shade throughout the course of the day. Realize that the weeping willow is not a long-lived specimen, with some unable to live for more than 30 years.
Plant a new weeping willow as quickly as you can once you get it home. Water the roots if they appear dry, and if you are not able to immediately plant the tree, then keep it in a cool, dark area such as the basement. Avoid planting a weeping willow during heat waves and times of drought. Wait until weather conditions are more moderate. Use a large pot to plant the tree and maintain it in the shade with adequate water until the weather breaks. Then transplant into another location.
When planting a weeping willow place it in loose rich soil. Dig out an area in the ground at least twice as wide as the roots. This insures they will have the room they require to grow. Fill the hole in so that no air pockets surround the roots. This can make the roots dry out. Perform a simple test on your weeping willow if you have doubts about how it is doing after planting it. Scrape off a tiny section of bark. Observe the tissue beneath the bark; if it is green or white the tree is alive, but if it is black or brown, it has died.
Never plant a weeping willow in winter, and also never less than six full weeks before the average first frost. Water the tree during any dry periods. Check the leaves now and then to see if they droop, which means the tree needs water. You can employ a simple fertilizer mixture such as Miracle-Gro. Spread this into the soil around the entire tree, though not onto the tree’s base itself. Weed around the tree during its initial year. Pull weeds by hand and resist using weed killers. Place mulch around the base to keep weeds from coming back. Do not be alarmed in the winter if the tree appears to be doing poorly. Even though the tree will turn brown and the leaves fall off, the roots are still capable of growing on warmer days.
Prune back the drooping branches as they near the ground. This will allow the tree to grow in a healthy manner. As the tree matures, you may want to prune the lower branches off so that there is room beneath the tree. Remember that weeping willow wood is not particularly strong. It will break easily in high winds. This makes it a poor choice for a permanent picnic area. The roots will also grow far out from the base of the tree. Do not be alarmed to see some of them break through the surface of the ground. Once the tree has survived its first two or three years, it is very low maintenance. Only when there is a drought will it need to be watered. The weeping willow can grow as much as eight feet per year once it has become established.
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