How Long Do Weeping Willows Live?

It enjoys a short but fulfilling lifespan

How Long Do Weeping Willows Live

Ursula Sander/Photography Aubrey Stoll/Perry Mastrovito/gettyimages

A native of extra-tropical Asia, Weeping Willow belongs to the Crack Willows group and is famed for its delicate, dramatic, and elegant appearance. Its drooping, long branches weep into an arch, forming a round canopy, which gently grazes the ground. Its branches are suitable for nesting birds, and the tree is food for deer and rabbits.


As compared to other trees, how long do weeping willows live, will surprise you. While most large sized trees live for more than ten decades, weeping willows have a short lifespan of 30-35 years average.


Without any further delay, let us look at it at a greater length.


In This Article


How Long Do Weeping Willow Trees Live? Why Is It Short?

The Weeping Willow is a fast-growing plant, growing an average of 6-10 feet per year till they finally reach fifty feet in height. Their rapid growth rate is the primary reason for the short weeping willow tree lifespan of 30-35 years. Reports by Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service suggest that weeping willow lives between twenty and thirty years.


However, if you want to ensure that your weeping willow lives as long as possible, you must plant it in a favorable location and cater to its maintenance and care conditions. Fortunately, the plant is not very fussy.


There is another reason for the short lives of weeping willows compared to the other trees. Their woods are brittle and weak. Consequently, their branches can crack and easily break under the weight of snow and ice. Its broken branches surround the tree and add to its litter problems. However, the University of Florida IFAS Extension recommends that proper pruning can help prolong the tree’s life.


However, if you are concerned about how long do weeping willow trees live, please be careful while you prune them. You must prune the plant while it is still young. It is vital to keep the central trunk become strong. While pruning, ensure that you do not touch the branch crotches, the intersection point for the branches, and the main trunk.


It is the point where maximum breakage takes place. Missouri Botanical Garden suggests that early spring or late winter are the ideal months for pruning.


Do All Willows Have A Similar Lifespan?

You already know how long do weeping willows live. People generally are intrigued about whether the other willow species also have a similar life expectancy. An average willow lives between thirty and forty years, but not every willow falls into that age bracket.


Below, we will discuss the lifespans of the 13 most popular willow varieties. It will help you understand the weeping willow’s lifespan vs. other willow varieties.


Goat Willow (Salix Caprea) Up to 300 years
Arctic Willow (Salix Arctica) 80 years
Dwarf Blue Arctic Willow (Salix Purpurea ‘Nana’) 40 years or more
Coyote Willow (Salix Exigua) 40 years or more
Dappled Willow (Salix Integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’) 40 years or more
American Pussy Willow (Salix Discolor) 40 years or more
Golden Willow (Salix Alba Var. Vitellina ‘Yelverton’) 80 years or more
White Willow (Salix Alba) 20-30 years
Bebb Willow (Salix Bebbiana) 20 years
Corkscrew Willow (Salix matsudana) 15 to 30 years
Almond Willow (Salix Triandra) 20-50 Years
Yellow Willow (Salix Lutea) 30 years


How To Tell If A Weeping Willow Tree Is Dying?

You know the weeping willow tree lifespan is not very long. Thus, it is imperative to ensure that they at least live their full life and do not die before time. Hence, please be careful and observant to ensure that you immediately take action before it is too late if you spot signs of a dying weeping willow.


Of course, weeping willows may be dying when it has drooping limbs, but that is not a sole indicator because their long branches anyway hang to the ground. So, below we will list some giveaway signs of a dying weeping willow:


1. Look at the leaves, and examine their color. Depending on whether the plant is healthy, there will be a difference in leaf color. If the leaves are healthy, the plant properly suffers from water deficiency or some sickness. But, the tree is healthy and thriving if the leaves are green.


However, if the leaves have become brown, it implies that the branch or tree has some disease or deficiency or the life expectancy of weeping willow trees is over. In the case of the former, you must immediately treat the same.


2. Consider the time of the year if you see willow tree shedding leaves. Willows are deciduous. So, between autumn and spring, they shed leaves. However, if the shedding is happening in the growing season, it is a matter of great concern. Long periods of drought can cause the willow trees to shed leaves during summers.


Thus immediately water if you see that happening to avoid dehydration. However, if all the leaves fall in summer, do not lose hope yet, and assess other signs to know whether the plant is healthy or not.


3. Next, pick any random branch and bend it back as you want to fold it in half. If the branch is dead, it will just break off instantly with a loud cracking sound. However, if the branch breaks into two, but you find the wood inside appearing moist, it implies that the branch is alive.


But, if the branch is fully dry from within, check another branch on the opposite end of the tree. If that seems ok, some branches may be dead, while others are ok.


4. Take a pocket knife, and chop off the bark’s outer layer. It exposes the innermost layers of the branch. If the tree is alive, it will be yellow or green, but in a dead tree, the color is gray, orange, or brown.


5. Lastly, assess the base, and look for symptoms of uprooting and rot rots visible at the point where the trunk stems from the ground. In the dying willow tree, you can spot the decaying, soft wood with several holes drilled by insects at the base. Also, try pushing on the tree. The wood will feel soft if there is rotting, resulting in movement at the trunk.


What Are The Problems That Affect How Long Do Weeping Willow Trees Live?

Certain diseases and problems cut short the already short lifespan of the willow trees. Some of these problems that kill the plant are:


1. Bacterial Twig Blight

Though not lethal, it can leave the leaves wilting and turning brown and may even kill several inches of the branch tips. This bacteria can result in brown cankers and streaks on the wood, wherein the bacteria spend the winter. If this bacteria affects the plant, immediately prune the infected branches, and spray them with a copper fungicide during the spring.


2. Cotton Root Rot

It is a fungal disease, typically linked to cotton plants that cause Willows in the Southwestern US to die and wilt. This disease occurs when the soil temperature reaches 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The leaves turn brown or yellow in the initial days, followed by the top leaves willing in the next one or two days and the lower leaves soon after.


Sadly, after the cotton root rot, the life expectancy of weeping willow trees may cease even while the leaves are still attached to the tree. The worst part is there is no chemical treatment to cure this, and the impact of this fungus lingers on in the soil for many years.


3. Iron Deficiency

Willow trees need iron for chlorophyll production. It is necessary to perform photosynthesis. When the soil’s pH is above seven, it may fail to absorb iron, resulting in the plant suffering from iron deficiency or iron chlorosis. When that happens, your tree turns yellow, and the twigs die, eventually killing the whole tree. You can save the tree by spraying iron on the leaves, injecting it directly into the tree, or adding iron to the soil.


4. Cytospora Canker

It is another fungus that infects the willow trees suffering from freezing, drought, transplant shock, or severe pruning. In this disease, you see cankers circling the stems and the branches. In addition, you will see the bark changing its color to yellow, reddish-brown, gray, or black. It is a severe disease and kills the trees and their branches.


When this happens, immediately chop off all the infected limbs or bark, and clean the equipment with alcohol. Unfortunately, there is no fungicide to eliminate Cytospora chysosperma, but you can spray the remainder tree with a fungicide with a chopper once you prune all the dead areas. It can help save the living weeping willow tree lifespan.


5. Crown Gall

It is a bacterial disease that results in rough woody swellings called galls on the crowns and stems of the young willows, resulting in stunted, deformed growth and eventually killing the tree. It is a prevalent disease, typically seen in nursery willows. Sadly, it is untreatable.


6. Other fungal diseases

Some other fungal diseases that kill the weeping willow are:

  1. Gloeosporium sp or Cercospora sp noted as irregular spots on the willow
  2. Powdery mildew, resulting in a white powdery growth on the leaves.


What To Do To Make Weeping Willows Live Longer?

With the right care, you can enhance how long do weeping willows live. Here are some care instructions you must follow for a weeping willow:

1. Sunlight: A weeping willow demands unfiltered, direct sunlight for at least four hours daily.

2. Soil: Weeping willow can tolerate several soil types, provided it is well-draining. It is also not very picky in terms of the soil pH. But, if you wish to extend the growth, you must expose it to slightly acidic, moist soil. However, the plant can even survive in alkaline, clay, sandy, rich, or loamy soil. Perform a thorough soil assessment before you plant the weeping willows.

3. Water: Willows love standing water. So, it is best to plant them near lakes, streams, or ponds.

4. Temperature and humidity: Willows have drought tolerance, can handle the winter cold, and take the desert heat, provided the water and greenery are not very far away.

5. Fertilizer: Weeping willows are not heavy feeders, and if you have a well-fertilized or green lawn nearby, you can skip fertilization. But if you want lush growth, you can choose to fertilize with a balanced or slow-release fertilizer.


Frequently Asked Questions

Ques 1. Should you plant a weeping willow?

Ans. Weeping willow tree lifespan is short with a beautiful appearance and foliage. They can add a new charm to the environment. So, if you want, you can consider planting them. The best time to plant weeping willows is during fall in USDA hardiness zones four through ten in the spot where it can receive well-draining, acidic, moist soil and access to partial shade or full sun.

Just keep them away from your house boundaries and underground water pipes.


Ques 2. At what places do weeping willows seem ideal?

Ans. Weeping willows love water. So, it is best to grow them near a body of fresh water for a healthy lifespan. River banks, ponds, and damp areas are good choices of growing spots for willows.

Final Word

Weeping willows are exceptionally graceful trees with a spectacular appeal. They have a fast growth rate. So, these trees can be a good pick if you need a dense privacy screen in a short while. But, you may be discouraged by how long do weeping willows live. However, if you want to have your weeping trees living for years, continue propagating them on your lawn, and you have nothing to worry about.