Sunday, March 22, 2009

Corkscrew Willow - Salix matsudana

Corkscrew Willow, also called Curly Willow,
is one of the fasted growing trees and very easy to propagate.

End of March, as soon as the temperatures climb over to plus degrees, I walk through the snow to my biggest Corkscrew Willow tree and cut several one or two ft long twigs. They will be placed then in a glass jar in the kitchen and after one or two weeks the bark turns scarlet and the first small light green tender leaves appear. Some days later these willow twigs show the first tiny roots, but they have to sit another month, until the roots are nearly filling the whole jar. Every other day the water will be exchanged and sometimes I even shower the twigs with lukewarm water to give them much appreciated moisture.

As soon as the soil is workable I plant those twigs into the warm soil, each one of them will built a new tree. During the first season it will grow approximately 4 ft and then vigorously every year another 5 ft up to 30ft high and 15ft wide.

I am propagating corkscrew willows during the hole spring/early summer season from woody stem cuttings, softwood cuttings or semi-hardwood cuttings and in May or June I even don't wait until they are rooted, I just place a branch in a 1-gallon flower pot, filled with moist soil and they root directly in the pot.

Willows contain growing hormones that are as strong as those you buy for top dollar in powder form. Just cutting a willow twig in tiny pieces and add them in a small water-filled glass, helps to create a solution in which nearly every plant roots.

Curly Willows are lush, attractive trees throughout the year, I like their appearance most in Winter when the interesting curled branches contrast to the snowy garden.

Like all willows, it will grow most vigorously in moist, cool soil and temperate climates, in sun or partial shade. But don't plant them close to your house, they have strong roots! Willows are not fussy in terms of soil, provided the soil doesn't dry out completely. I have also used it as a patio tree in a large container for one season (with multiple waterings during the hottest days).

Planting a living Corkscrew Willow fence appears to me way more attractive than those dreadful pruned cedar fences.

For Spring flower arrangements I always add some branches of Corkscrew Willow, they make for a very delicate accent.