Pussy Willow Tree

Grow Your Own Pussy Willow Tree

Every spring folks head for the out of doors in search of a nearby Pussy willow tree to collect a few pussy willow stems. It is the furry, unopened buds at the end of the branches, called catkins, which are of interest. Since we can sometimes remember where the tree was that we collected pussy willows from the previous year, we head off in that direction.

Oh-Oh - The next step is almost a foregone conclusion. The tree has grown and the beautiful catkins are now just out of reach. It doesn't help things much that the pussy willow tree generally isn't a very good tree for climbing, so we resign ourselves to looking for another, shorter tree. Still, as they say, half the fun is in the chase, and spring wouldn't be spring if one didn't have to work a little bit to get a nice collection of catkins for an indoor decorative arrangement.

Eventually, the search for a reasonably short Pussy willow tree can get tiresome. We've become so used to searching for the trees in out of the way places, it's never occurred to us that we might grow our own pussy willow tree. The wonderful thing about that is, a single tree or shrub will probably provide all of the catkins we'll ever need, plus the tree can be pruned year after year so that the catkins are never out of reach. In planting our own tree, we've simply discarded an old tradition, tramping through the woods, with a newer one, gathering from our own garden.

Arrangements vs. Cuttings - A Pussy willow tree is almost ridiculously easy to grow. One can grow it from softwood cuttings. Take cuttings during the summer, stick them in water, and they'll soon set root. It's generally well known that when using the catkins for an indoor decoration, they are usually placed in a vase, but no water is added. That way they stay the same for quite a awhile and don't open up, at which point they will become much less attractive. If one puts water in the vase, the catkins will open up sooner, and the stems will likely begin to set root. So, it's that easy to start a pussy willow tree from a cutting!

Just Cut It Down - If you plant your own Pussy willow tree, one of the first things discovered is that it is a very rapid grower, so after the first couple of years it will need to be pruned annually to be kept at the desired height. If left unattended, your tree will become another one of those whose pussy willows are suddenly out of reach. It doesn't need to be that way however. If you let your tree get out of hand, and it's becoming a fairly tall tree, say 15' or 20', just grab an ax ( a saw would actually be much better), and cut the tree down to a stump that's 2' to 3' high. Before you know it, there'll soon be a host of new shoots coming up, ready to provide you with next year's crop of catkins.

Prune As A Tree Or As A Shrub - A Pussy willow can be grown as a tree or a shrub. When grown as a tree, it can be pruned annually, cut back by a third or less, to shape the tree, and keep it at the desired height. Grown as a shrub, it can be pruned back to the ground, and when done annually there will be a large amount of stems with catkins every spring, probably no more than waist high for easy gathering. The branches of the Pussy willow tree are erect, growing upright, not to be confused with the weeping willow varieties on which the branches bend downwards.

Plant In A Low Spot - You can plant a Pussy willow tree almost anywhere, as they are not fussy about soil types. Planting may consist of little more than sticking a rooted stem cutting in the ground and giving it water. The willow tree is a somewhat thirsty plant, and will usually do best if planted in a low spot in the yard where water tends to collect, though not enough to drown the plant. The soil will need to be kept moist however until the tree is established, usually within in a year or two.


 

 


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