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Salix babylonica
Salix babylonica

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Zones 3-24, 30-34, H2
Full Sun
Ample WaterRegular Water
Ample, Moderate

Salix babylonica

Weeping Willow
Deciduous, Trees


Classic streamside trees, willows are fast growing, weak-wooded, and short-lived. Weeping willows are best used as single trees near a stream or lake, though they can, with training, become satisfactory shade trees for a patio or terrace. They leaf out very early in spring and hold their foliage late. Shrubby willows are grown mainly for catkins (this group goes by the name “pussy willow”) or colorful twigs, as screen plants, or for erosion control on stream or riverbanks. For this last purpose, locally offered native types are best. Pussy willow branches can be cut in bud and brought indoors to bloom. Willows take any soil; most even tolerate poor drainage. All have shallow, invasive roots and are difficult to garden under; don’t plant near sewer lines. Most are subject to pests (tent caterpillars, aphids, borers, and spider mites).

Twig blight may be a problem in the Northwest (spray copper fungicide on new foliage); Texas root rot may cause trouble in the desert. Species hybridize readily, resulting in much confusion of names in the nursery trade.

Salix babylonica

From China. This tree grows to 30–50 ft. tall and wide (or wider). Has longer (3–6 in.) leaves and a more pronounced weeping habit than S. alba ‘Tristis’. Greenish or brown branchlets. ‘Crispa’ (‘Annularis’), ringleaf or corkscrew willow, has leaves curled into rings or circles; it is somewhat narrower than the species.

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