Will the Willows Wilt? Experiments in propagation.

At the back fence. Medium-wet soil here.

As I mentioned during March’s spring fever, I have been plotting an experiment in propagating more Japanese dappled willow shrubs around my back garden.  I finally started the big propagation experiment today.  See the comments on this post for progress updates.

I clipped off a dozen or two soft shoots of my large Salix integra Hakuri Nishiki and dropped them into a bucket of water.

I chose four sheltered locations around the perimeter of my yard, none of them in full sun.  Some are mostly shade, others are partial sun.  The soil is heavy clay, and this spring it’s been thoroughly soaked by three months of rain.

To start them, I pulled off the bottom pairs of leaves and gently pushed each branchlet down into the soil past at least the first leaf nodes.  The shoots were so soft, sometimes they bent as I was pushing them.

I suspect that the bending will hurt that plant’s chances of surviving.

Even if only 30% survive, in their new homes they will add some nice contrast to the neighboring Diablo ninebark and red osier dogwood.

They will give me something to visit around the yard. While I am there, I can yank more thistle sprouts and horsetail rush.  I hate both of those.

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  1. #1 by Sandy M. on June 6, 2011 - 10:41 am

    Update: the spots I expected to be shadiest actually get sun from sunrise until 10 am – about 5 hours this time of year. Most of the shoots were droopy on top in those areas, though their bottom leaves still looked fine.

  2. #2 by Sandy M. on June 6, 2011 - 10:57 am

    I just spotted this very good post on propagating willow with hardwood cuttings: http://willowbasketmaker.com/2009/04/23/planting-willow/ … maybe these softwood babies will lose moisture too fast? We’ll see

  3. #3 by Sandy M. on June 7, 2011 - 9:10 pm

    Apparently, you should measure a willow’s time-until-rooting in HOURS. While weeding around the sprouts this afternoon, I pulled a sprout up by accident. It already had sprouted a root! About 5 mm long.

    I estimate that the sprout had been in the ground approximately 46 hours at that point.

  4. #4 by Sandy M. on June 13, 2011 - 3:44 pm

    The sprouts which get 5 hours of full morning sun are having a lower survival rate. The sprouts at the back, almost as much sun, are also down to a minority surviving group. Oddly, the sprouts are doing pretty well in the area I thought would be the harshest. I think it’s because they are getting filtered sun all day – thanks to the red osiers.
    Finally, the babies in the soggiest, shadiest area are doing best. Majority still going strong.

  1. Pruning and Propagating a Japanese Dappled Willow – hmm « Bibliophage's Buffet

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