Weeping willow trees are known for their graceful form and fall color. Find facts and information on the choosing the best weeping willow tree varieties, and types for your landscape.
Facts on Weeping Willows Trees
The willows (Salix) are moisture-loving trees and shrubs with flexible whip-like branches and long lance-shaped leaves. They grow very fast and do well when planted along side stream banks, as they help hold in the soil. Willows in particular, are often used in suburban yard when homeowners need an airy screen.
Besides having a graceful form and useful affinity to water, they provide seasonal interest. They leaf out early in spring, and in fall the foliage of many species turns to shimmering gold.
Willows epitomize the grace of pendulous plants, especially when reflected in the water of a pond or lake with wind sweeping through the branches. They also bear male and female flowers. In some cases they may flower while they still have their leaves.
Weeping Willow Tree Varieties
- Some shrubby male willows present elongated clusters, or catkins, called pussy willows. The native pussy willow (Salix discolor), which grows wild from Newfoundland to British Columbia and south through Zone 8, bears attractive flowers buds early in the season.
- Salix caprea, Goat willow, is typically the one sold in florist shops. It bears velvety silvery-gray catkins and is hardy in Zones 4-8.
- The beautiful Babylon weeping willow (Salix babylonica) grows 30-40 feet, has reddish brown branches that sweep the ground, and grows in Zones 6-8. It was first thought that this variety originated from Babylon, but was later found to be from China.
Willow Trees Zones 4-9
- Salix alba ‘Tritis’, Golden weeping willow, grows north of Zone 6, and is by far the best weeping willow to plant. It grows 50-70 feet and is also known as ‘Chrysocoma’ (Salix x sepulcralis). This variety has showy bright yellow-orange twigs in the winter. It has a rounded crown, with branches that reach the ground. Bloom time is early spring when the golden catkins begin to appear. The foliage is a lustrous green that turns gold in the fall.
- Salix alba, variety ‘Vitellina’, has showy bright yellow orange twigs in winter.
- Salix alba ‘Britzensis’ has gorgeous dark orange twigs.
- Salix alba ‘Sericea’ has leaves that are silvery on the undersides, and seem to flicker in the air when swept by a breeze.
Willow trees will root easily in spring, even in dryish soil, but to flourish they need sustained moisture. They are best planted away from water pipes as they will invade them. They are best planted where they will receive full sun but they will tolerate partial shade, and will grow in a wide range of soils, from pH 5.5 to 7.5.
Pests and Diseases include nematode damage which is responsible for the inadequate root system that often causes willows to topple in a storm.
Pruning can be done in summer or fall.
*Yardandgardenrescue.com has many helpful articles on different types of trees and shrubs to help you make your landscape a beautiful place for your family to enjoy. Here are some of the popular types of trees planted in home landscapes: Redbud tree, Golden Rain tree, Maples, Japanese Maple, Sugar Maple, crabapple tree, and Blue Spruce trees.