How Fast Do Willow Trees Grow?

Pruning it young enhances the growth rate of willow trees

How Fast Do Willow Trees Grow

Andrea Kennard Photography/wanderluster/japatino/Barry Winiker/gettyimages


Willow trees belong to the genus Salix and have multiple varieties. Their most common variety is the weeping willow. So much so that weeping willow has gotten synonymous with willow trees.


It is surprising to see how fast do willow trees grow. In some cases their annual growth lies somewhere between 6-10 feet. Of course, there are some exceptions based on the species but on average their growth rate is quite fast.


In This Article


Identifying A Willow Tree

Willow trees have arching stems, which delicately dangle, droop, and shiver in the breeze. Refined and graceful, these are easily identifiable, courtesy of their ground-sweeping branches and an open crown.


Its deciduous leaves are light on the surface but grayish-green underneath and grow between three and six inches long. During the fall season, the leaves change their color to yellow and eventually drop to the ground. They thrive around the water and are 30-40 feet high with 35 feet spread.


It has a gray and rough bark with deep, long ridges. The plant grows in USDA hardiness zones six through eight.


Willow Tree Growth Rate Per Year

Well, fortunately, or unfortunately, they have a fast growth rate. You will see some of the willow varieties increasing by over 6-8 feet annually.


Are Willow Trees Easy To Grow?

Willow trees grow in USDA hardiness zones four through nine that cover the whole country, except Minnesota and Southern Florida. In all honesty, Willow Trees are easy to grow, but whether your plantation yields the desired result or how fast do willows grow will depend on the proper plantation measures and care. Follow the steps to ensure a decent growth rate and a healthy willow lifespan:

  1. Pick a plantation site that receives at least four hours of unfiltered and direct sunlight daily. The best thing is you do not have to find a spot guarded against the wind because willows work as an excellent windbreak.
  2. Before plantation, eliminate all the weeds, debris, or turfgrass.
  3. Next, dig a hole at the same depth and twice the depth of the root ball.
  4. Further, remove the root ball from the pot and insert it in the center of the dug hole.
  5. Once inserted, fill it back with the soil and water it thoroughly.
  6. Once the water drains away, finish the backfilling.
  7. Next, add a mulch layer approximately one to two inches on the root zone, not close to the trunk.


The accuracy of the steps you take here will determine the willow tree growth rate. If you wish to plant a dense privacy screen, you need to space the trees at least three feet apart.


On the other hand, if you want to build a windbreak, you need to plant the staggered rows five feet apart in a zig-zag pattern.


How To Make Them Grow Faster?

As stated already, the willow has a fast growth rate, and you can alter it as well. Yes, you can influence the growth rate and make the plant grow quicker by pruning it while it is young. Cut it, ensuring there is one central leader.


Ideally, snip the branches in early spring or late winter. It will stimulate the new branch growth, making the tree retain its appeal.


In addition, once you finish planting, the amount of care you undertake will determine how well the willow grows. Here are the mandatory care guidelines for your willow tree to thrive:


1. Sunlight: Willow trees enjoy full sun, or at least six hours of unfiltered, direct sunlight. They can also grow in partial shade, a few hours of direct sunlight.
2. Soil: They are not very high-maintenance and can survive in various pH levels and soil compositions. However, they primarily enjoy slightly alkaline to slightly acidic or even neutral soils. In all circumstances, the soil should be well-draining. You can add a potting mix or add two layers of mulch around the root zone.
3. Fertilizer: Ideally, you must fertilize the willow trees when new growth emerges or in early spring. Opt for a balanced, slow-release fertilizer with NPK 10-10-10.
4. Watering: Initially, you must water your newly planted willows two times a week for the first two to three months. Follow it with irregular and deep watering for a week, more during the dry, hot spells in summer.
5. Pruning: Lastly, willows do not demand heavy pruning. They self-prune, and the old leaves tend to wall off naturally with the wind.


Weeping Willow – How Fast Does This Popular Variety Grow?

Weeping willow’s blooming season is in spring or late winter when you find the flowers or the yellow catkins appearing on the plant. The weeping willow grows quickly at around three feet per year.


However, their average lifespan is short and is only thirty years. We recommend planting your weeping willows in the fall season. It will ensure that the root system has ample time to establish itself before the warmer weather arrives.
Related: Weeping willow lifespan | Caring for a weeping willow


Frequently Asked Questions

Ques 1. Are Willow Tree Roots Invasive?

Ans. Willow trees have invasive roots that spread up to forty meters wide, resulting in havoc on roads, pavements, and drains. Though they are beautiful and eye-catching in spring, their aggressive and invasive roots and the fast willow tree growth rate do not make them suitable for smaller gardens.


Some willow varieties you should surely avoid if you have a small garden include Austree, corkscrew, and weeping willows.


Ques 2. How Long Do Willows Live?

Ans. Typically, a weeping willow lives for around three decades. However, some willow species can live for three centuries.


Ques 3. What Time Of The Year Do You Plant A Weeping Willow Tree?

Ans. Plant the willows in the fall to give the root system ample time for development.


Final Word

Willow trees are not the ideal choice for households because of their invasive roots and the litter problem they usually create. But, looking at how fast do willow trees grow, they can be the best choice for areas closer to lakes, streams, ponds, or other water features.