How To Care For A Weeping Willow Tree?

Choosing the apt location, soil, watering frequency, and pruning is important

How To Care For A Weeping Willow Tree

Richard Hamilton Smith/Lore/Simon McGill/gettyimages


Weeping willows have long been prized and cherished for their drooping, delicate branches grazing the ground with silver-tinged, fluttering leaves. It is a graceful, lovely tree suited for a large-scale garden. Native to China, Weeping Willow is botanically called the Salix babylonica. 


Though suitable for every climate, they are best suited for sites with full sun. Weeping trees offer food for deer and rabbits, and their branches can also be perfect for nesting birds. The tree has silvery green foliage in summer, which eventually turns yellow during the fall. They are fast-growing, vast trees, ideal for screening.


Regardless of where you plant it, if you know how to care for a weeping willow tree, it will be the focal point of every garden. However, they do the best when planted near water, where they also hold the soil together preventing soil erosion.


  1. Where To Grow?
  2. How To Plant It?
  • Weeping Willow Care
  • How To Bonsai Weeping Willow?
  • Can You Grow Weeping Willow Bonsai Indoors?
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Final Word

    Overview – Weeping Willows

    Botanical Name Salix babylonica
    Family Salicaceae
    Mature Size 35–50 ft. tall, 5–50 ft. wide
    Bloom Time Winter or Spring
    Native Area China
    Hardiness USDA 4 through 10


    How To Care For A Weeping Willow Tree Right From The Beginning?

    To be honest, the right weeping willow care measures start right from when you plant it and where you plant it. Below listed are the growing and caring tips for weeping willows.


    Where to Grow Weeping Willows?

    1. Take your weeping willow and grow it in a spot that receives partial shade or full sun.
    2. Ensure that the growing region is near a stream or pond or is a focal point of a large lawn.
    3. Before planting, assess the soil to ensure that the soil is moist, well-draining and offers plant-optimum conditions, or the tree will lack vigor.
    4. Since the willow tree grows to fifty feet with an almost equal spread, you must pick a vast yard or lawn, giving the tree ample area to stress.
    5. Never grow them near septic systems, sewer drains, or water lines. They have aggressive roots and might stretch wider than their height. A weeping willow always tries to reach the most abundant and the nearest water source. Moreover, they are also attracted to the oxygen in the drain lines and the nutrients in the septic system.


    How to Plant and Grow Weeping Willows?

    You have to plant the weeping willow as you would plant any tree.

    1. On your chosen spot, dig a hole, and smoothen its edges using a garden fork.
    2. Check the hole’s depth and width before you start planting the weeping willow. Assess the mark on the root of the trees, ensuring the root ball’s top is at level with the soil for the trees grown in the pots.
    3. If the depth satiates you, backfill the hole with soil and gently try to collect the soil together to ensure firmness.
    4. Include a stake and fix it with the tree tie. It helps avoid root rock on windy days.
    5. Water it deeply and thoroughly.


    How To Take Care of A Weeping Willow Tree After Planting It?

    Here is a laydown of all the steps you need to follow to ensure your willow tree receives the necessary care.


    1. Meet the tree’s light requirements

    All types of Willow trees grow best in the spot where they receive partial shade or full sun. On all days, the plant desires at least four hours of unfiltered, direct sunlight.


    2. Plant it in the well-draining soil

    Willow trees can tolerate different kinds of soil pH from 4.5 to 8. They can also adapt to various types of well-draining soils. But the plant can grow in loamy, alkaline, clay, sandy, and rich soils.


    How to care for a weeping willow tree if the planted soil is highly alkaline? You can reduce the pH of the soil by adding organic matter. You can add sulfur to increase the acidic content in the soil.


    3. Understand the plant’s watering schedule

    Weeping willows love water. Their far-reaching, long root system does an excellent job clearing the flood-prone or puddle areas in the landscape. So, after planting, water the willow at least once a week in the first year.


    After this, you only need to water it enough to ensure that the soil does not dry completely. To check the same, stick your finger into the soil. If it does not feel moist, you must rewater immediately.


    4. Expose it to the right temperature

    Weeping willows grow in USDA hardiness zones four through eight. Hence, they can handle cold weather and hot summer desert heat. However, ensure that the water and greenery are not very far from it in the hot regions, and the drought periods do not extend for long in cold climates.


    5. Maintain the humidity

    Weeping willows love high humidity. So, if the humidity drops, you can mist the plant.


    6. Prune as required

    To stimulate the best growth, you should prune the weeping willow while it is young. Chop the branches such that there is a single central leader. Pick the ones having weaker junctions closer to the tree’s base. Further, snip them in early spring or late winter.


    In addition, prune the tree during a storm to eliminate all the broken or damaged branches. Also, if there are any dead spots, chop them till you reach the living branch. All of this helps boost new branch growth and revitalize the tree.


    7. Keep pests and diseases at bay

    Weeping willows are susceptible to an attack from black canker, willow blight, willow scab, powdery mildew, fungi, and root rot, amongst other things. Pest issues, such as gypsy moths, aphids, and borers, can also harm the weeping willows.


    To remedy the problem you can use targeted spraying to solve this issue.


    8. Propagation helps

    Propagation implies cutting the weeping willow’s stems and inserting them into the soil for new growth. While cutting, snip right from the base while the mature trees are in the dormant stage. Also, please remember that every stem cutting must be at least two feet long. Keep this cutting in the water for the time being, and regularly change the water.


    Finally, you can insert the cuttings into the soil in spring or late winter. Across the growing season, you should water the soil to keep it moist. It is vital to stimulate healthy growth.


    9. Repotting to a bigger container

    You do not commonly pot your weeping willow trees, given their rapid growth rate, which makes it tricky for the potted willow tree to handle the unstable endeavor. Once you get the weeping willow from the nursery, you must plant it in the soil.


    However, if you desire a weeping willow but do not want to sign up for its expansive, invasive growth, you can opt for a pussy willow variety. It is a smaller variant and will not grow over thirty feet, making it suitable for potting in a garden, patio, or deck.


    While potting, opt for a heavy, sturdy, and big container with an equally durable and large base, capable of holding the plant’s bulk against the weather. You can re-pot them in a plastic or a wooden pot in soil comprising 2/3 soil-based compost and 1/3 compost. Water it well, and place it in a spot where it receives full sun.


    10. Use a suitable fertilizer

    Mature weeping willows are not heavy feeders, especially if planted in rich soil with a well-fertilized lawn nearby. But, if you wish to stimulate growth, you can add a small quantity of fertilizer. Before adding any fertilizer, check the soil’s current nutritional value and accordingly pick a fertilizer. It is safe to opt for a slow-release organic feed like mulch.


    How To Bonsai A Weeping Willow Tree and Care for It?

    You can bonsai weeping willows, but they will demand excessive styling and care, which may not be easy. Bonsais need heavy water, and you need to curtail their strong growth. We recommend taking larger willows and pruning it regularly to give it the desired shape. Use a suitable bonsai pot and wire the shoots downwards because naturally, they grow upwards to reach their genetically predetermined height.


    As for the rest like soil and sunlight, there’s nothing much different on how to take care of a weeping willow tree bonsai, it is same as the regular weeping willow.


    Can You Grow Weeping Willow Bonsai Indoors?

    Unfortunately, weeping willows have a high sunlight requirement for indoor growth. Of course, you may want to keep your plants indoors when the weather is harsh and rough, but as much as possible, keep them outdoors, especially during the growing season.


    Frequently Asked Questions

    Ques 1. Weeping willow bonsai leaves turning brown – What could be the reason?

    Ans. Underwatering may cause the weeping willows to turn brown. At times, even a fungal disease might also make the bonsais brown.


    Ques 2. Are weeping willow roots invasive?

    Ans. The weeping willow has an invasive and vast root system. That is why never plant them too close to the house or drainage pipelines.


    Ques 3. How do you prune a willow bonsai tree?

    Ans. Prune the willow bonsai from the base to give it the desired shape. Do it during the winters when they are in the dormant stage with sharp garden scissors.

    Final Word

    Not too difficult to care for, weeping willows are nice trees. We are sure the steps and the tips above should simplify the process, streamlining how you grow and care for your weeping willows and helping them live long.