Willow - Salix babylonica

The Willow

The willow, common name for salix, belonging to the Salicaceae family, forms a large genus of trees and shrubs, of hanging or creeping woody plants. The different species have differences as regards the posture but are united by having all narrow and lanceolate leaves. Willow originates in the more temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere, but also in Northern Africa. It is a medium-sized tree, which can even reach 25 meters in height. It has a usually gray trunk bark, while the branches are reddish green, but also reddish brown. Particularly appreciated from an aesthetic point of view is its “sagging” variant due to the suggestive charm of the long silvery green foliage, which descend to the ground, giving an effect of lightness and elegance to the plant's bearing. Often this type is considered among the most beautiful arboreal visions: cascades of shiny and silver foliage surrounded by a choreographic dome of yellow and orange branches.

The willow is very common along the banks of rivers or freshwater streams, places where the trees enjoy the ideal humidity conditions and where they are very useful in consolidating the soil thanks to their strong roots.

Leaves and flowers

The leaves of the willow have a yellow-green hue, often tending to a pale green hue. They have an elongated and thin shape. The flowers are collected in catkins, sometimes very decorative. Males and females are placed on separate plants. Male catkins are characterized by golden anthers in the spring season. The female ones are more greenish in color and have small seeds closed in a white fluff during the summer.


Sowing must be done in a humid nursery for woody cuttings, which have a length of at least thirty centimeters. One year later, the final planting of the young specimens can be carried out. The exposure must be sunny or half shade. Since the willow is a very rustic plant, it can boast a remarkable resistance to cold.


The willow definitely prefers a moist soil, even clayey, fertile and equipped with organic substance. Land subject to drying up should definitely be avoided for its cultivation.


Fungi that can cause serious damage to the willow are the so-called Uncinula salicis, which attacks the leaves causing whitish spots and subsequent fall, and the Rhytisma salicinum, which always affects the leaves causing yellow spots to arise which soon form a single and a larger black spot, again causing the leaf to fall.

Finally, the Stilpnotia salicis insect also causes damage to the leaves, which it uses as food.


In nature, the willow is widespread in particular in moorlands and, as mentioned above, in areas with high humidity, without ever forming pure woods. Its use is totally reserved for ornamental purposes or for the reforestation of natural areas that have undergone degradation processes. Arboreal trees are used in lawns or in lakes or bodies of water as isolated specimens. They grow without problems, in fact, on humid and marshy soils, and are indeed highly recommended in those gardens where drainage is a problem. Many of these can also act as windbreaks or natural barriers for the protection of other plants, thanks to their robust structure.


Willows do not require regular pruning. However, for aesthetic reasons, it is possible to shorten the branches without damaging the plant, which, following this operation, would obviously see its natural bearing changed.

Other species

There are many species of willow. The most common are the Babylonian salix - the well-known weeping willow - typical hanging willow. The salix alba, among the first to open the leaves, hanging from the twigs, in spring, and among the last to drop them in autumn. The salix aegyptiaca, small in size, 3-4 meters high, with large shoots, covered by gray down and elliptical leaves about 15 centimeters long. The salix caprea, also called salicone, with a height of up to 8 meters and large and oval leaves, very decorative for its golden or silver catkins. Curiosity of this kind: the flowers appear before the leaves in showy spikes called "mice". Salix daphnoides, around 9 meters tall, with narrow and lanceolate leaves, bright green in the upper part, glaucous in the lower part. Its beauty is especially noticeable in the winter season, when the new shoots take on a striking purple color and are covered with white fluff.

The salix purpurea, small in size - around 3 meters tall - with bluish green leaves and pendulous, long and slender branches. The purpurea is considered among the best of the "weeping" type among the small willows and d is therefore highly recommended for spaces of limited size. Finally the salix viminalis, or wicker, with a height of about 9 meters, long silver colored leaves, grown mainly for ornamental purposes, but also for the production of the well-known baskets.

Salix matsudana Tortuosa Peking Willow

  • Resistance:from sunny to partial shade
  • Soil type: clay-silt
  • Soil acidity: acid to basic
  • Soil moisture: normal to wet
  • Usage: isolated bonsai
  • Planting, replanting autumn Spring

How to kill a weeping willow

The weeping willow tree is notoriously hardy and can survive numerous difficult conditions to regrow stronger than ever. While this is a survival attribute, if you're a weeping willow fan, trees can also start disrupting your garden and their root systems can interfere with the roots of other nearby plants and trees, as well as underground utilities. In these cases, weeping willows are frustratingly difficult to get rid of. Killing a weeping willow requires hard work and diligence to ensure they don't grow back.


• Cut the weeping willow down with a chainsaw. You can choose to enter a professional service for this to ensure the tree does not damage anything when it falls. The service can also remove the remains of trees. You want to get rid of all the trunk and all branches of the weeping willow and leave only the stump in your garden. If you cut the tree down on your own, use gloves, safety glasses and safety equipment.

• Drill several holes in the top and side of the abutment and fill them with splitting block. Side holes should be drilled at 45 degree angles. The chemical in the decomposer will help kill the remaining stump and loosen it to make it easier to remove from the ground. Water the strain lightly and continue adding decomposer strain for the next four to six weeks, according to the chemist's instructions.

• Fill the holes with kerosene after the stump has dried. Once the kerosene has absorbed into the wood, pour a little more into a hole and light it carefully. The stump and the roots connected to it should gradually reduce to ashes.

Small Willow Kinds

The familiar weeping willow (Salix babylonica) grows to 50 feet tall, with a maximum width of 40 feet. While many willow species may be too large for the home landscape, smaller willow types are available. Some species can be pruned to shrubs or allowed to grow into trees. Not all willow species are the weeping variety

Laurel Willow

Although not the smallest species of willow, the laurel willow (Salix pentandra) is a small to medium-sized tree that grows about 25 meters tall. Despite its height, bay willow generally grows in a shrubby, nonweeping form. The bark is gray-brown and the leaves are deep green. Laurel willow is hardy to the US Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone 3 and enjoys moist but well-drained soil. Laurel willow plants around water features or as an ornamental specimen, in the yard in full sun to partial shade.

Willow gold

Gold Willow (Salix alba var. Vitellina) grows 6 to 70 meters tall. The difference is in the way it is maintained. Golden willow is a weeping, multistemmed plant that grows up to 8 meters per year. In late winter, cut this species down to about a foot tall without damaging the plant. Long 4-inch gold leaves of willow have silver underparts. The leaves turn different shades of yellow in the fall. The plant produces erect catkins up to 4 inches long in spring, as the leaves appear. Golden willow grows well in USDA zones 2 through 9. Plant golden willow in moist, clay soil with a pH of 5.5 to 8.0 in full sun or partial shade. Different plant for a screen or plant around ponds, streams or other wet areas.

Coral Bark Willow

In nature, willow bark corals (Salix alba subsp. Vitellina Britzens) grows to a height of 80 meters. In the garden, this vertical willow variety can stop growing to around 15 meters. Coral bark gets its name from its winter display when stems turn a deep, orangish-red. Prune willow bark coral heavily in late winter before new growth appears for maximum color the following winter. Hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8, willow bark coral loves full sun and moist, well-drained soils.

Violet Willow

The purple willow (daphnoides Salix), hardy in USDA zones 4 to 7, grows 7 to 20 meters tall and produces silvery-white catkins from April to May. The tree's stems turn purple from early autumn to mid-winter. This vertical willow can be pruned and kept as a shrub or allowed to grow into a tree. Catkins appear in early spring before leaves and are useful for dry flower arrangements. Violet willow loves medium-wet soil in full sun or partial shade. Grow purple willow as an ornamental tree or shrub in the garden or around ponds. Different plant for one screen.

How does twisted willow multiply?

Salix matusdana Tortuosa easily multiplies by cutting when in leaf. Just cut several branches, still young enough (from the year or the previous year) and keep them in a vase full of water. Within a few weeks the cuttings take root strongly: the cuttings are ready to be repotted in a pot or in a place, knowing that they must under no circumstances suffer from a dry substrate during the first year of growth.
The cuttings can be buried directly in the ground from September to November to prevent the soil from drying out around the new roots. If the success rate is lower, this type of cut is quick and unattended.

Watering and exposure

Willows need constant and regular watering, they are very afraid of drought, in fact, they are often planted near lakes or streams, in constantly wet soils. The plant prefers sunny positions, as in excessively shaded places it tends to have a stunted development, it does not fear the cold and tolerates very intense and prolonged frosts without problems. They prefer rich and deep soils, not excessively draining, often they can be planted in places where many other essences would suffer, or where the water stagnates and the soil is constantly impregnated. The multiplication generally takes place by cuttings, using the semi-woody apexes of the branches, the willow cuttings root with great ease. Beware of pests and diseases! The babylonica willows in particular are often attacked by rodilegno and branch cancers the wood is quite fragile, so it often happens that the thinnest branches break.

How to grow the weeping willow

The weeping willow (Salix babylonica L.) is one of the most used willows for ornamental purposes and for this reason we will look for the best techniques and how to grow the weeping willow.
The weeping willow is a well-known plant, above all for its bearing that has earned it the name of weeping and has a very rapid growth and prefers the banks of lakes or in general of fresh water courses, in a preferably cool soil. For its characteristics, however, it is advisable, however, not to grow the weeping willow in small gardens, as the plant needs large spaces that would take away from other plants.
In fact, once placed at home, the weeping willow, by its size, will condition the rest of the arrangement of space. The exposure that prefers the weeping willow is sunny or half-shade. Also remember that it is a plant that has a remarkable resistance to cold.

As for the choice of land, this is good that it is definitely moist, very fertile and rich in organic substance. If you do not have these characteristics it is not advisable to insert this plant which, moreover, would be outside its habitat. So much so that the willows are particularly widespread in the moors or in those areas that have a high humidity.
In addition to ornamental uses, willow is used for the reforestation of natural areas that have been subjected and degradation processes. By loving wet and marshy areas its use should be done taking into account these particular habitats. The use of weeping willow as a windbreak or for the formation of natural barriers, aimed at protecting other plants, is also frequent. Another use, often unknown, is to extract from the willow twigs of the natural hormones that carry out an interesting rooting action for the preparation of the cuttings of the plants.
Due to its characteristics, the weeping Willow plant should never be pruned. Only in special cases, the plant can be pruned when it is attacked by insects, parasites or atmospheric agents. In some cases it happens that the branches, struck violently by the wind, can crack and the foliage can reach the ground, damaging the plant and its extraordinary beauty. For this reason the shortening of the branches must be done with great caution without tampering with the characteristic bearing of the same.

Video: Salix babylonica - Weeping Willow Tree

Previous Article

Echeveria 'Green Abalone'

Next Article

Varieties Of Orange Fruit: Learn About Different Types Of Oranges