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How to Plant Basket Willow (Salix)
By Susi Nuss

You can grow your own willow rods or withes to use in weaving baskets, natural trellises, towers, environmental sculpture and fences. Follow these how to steps.

Difficulty Level: Average    Time Required: Several days


Here's How:

  1. Cut stakes 10-12" from long, upright rods taken off the parent plant. Choose rods that are dormant and at least one year old.
  2. Make a straight cut at top of the stake. At the thicker end cut the branch at an angle, so that it makes a point. This way you will know which end is up and it will also be easier to drive the stakes into the ground.
  3. Cut the stake long enough so that two or three buds will remain above ground.
  4. Do not allow the cuttings to dry out before planting. Wrap them and keep them cool.
  5. Remove the leaves and small branches from the stakes as soon as possible after cutting them, to keep the stakes from drying out.
  6. Choose a site with full sun and good drainage.
  7. Prepare the planting bed by thoroughly cultivating the area where you will plant.
  8. Mulch the bed with black plastic sheeting.
  9. Do not pre-root the cuttings. No hormone powder is necessary.
  10. Push the stakes into the ground by hand or use a rubber mallet leaving two or three buds exposed.
  11. Plant cuttings six inches apart in rows 2 to 3 feet apart.
  12. Put straw mulch over plastic to reduce heat build up or a thick layer of organic mulch if plastic is not used.
  13. Keep weed free. Irrigate in dry climates. Watch carefully for disease.
  14. At the end of the first year after the leaves fall cut the rods as close to parent cutting as possible. Use the cuttings to make new stakes for the first few years.

Tips:

  1. Each year cut the one year rods back to the original cutting. Cut the withes when the plants are dormant.
  2. Be certain to be diligent about weeds until your bed becomes established.
  3. If you don't have a place to cut your own, willow cuttings can be purchased commercially.

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