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The Pruning Of A Weeping Pussy Willow

This Weeping Pussy Willow got a very bad pruning (actually hacking!) job done to it. It looked like a round, green lolly pop! See the step by steps on how I restoratively pruned it . You'll get pruning tips too.

Pruning Weeping Pussy Willow

This is how the Weeping Pussy Willow looked at the end of March 2014. As you can see, it’s developed a beautiful structure.

Here’s the alternate title to this post: How To Make Good On A Bad Prune Job. This Weeping Pussy Willow tree, or Salix caprea “pendula”, has been growing in my client’s garden for about 11 years now. I’m no longer her full time gardener as I’ve since moved south to Santa Barbara.

Over the years I’d been artfully pruning and training it but at the end of 2011 it got hacked by the new gardener (what?!).  On five of my subsequent visits to this garden I’ve done restorative and cosmetic pruning. Much to my surprise it’s come back to its glorious self much faster than I thought. 

Weeping Pussy Willow tree is a plant not often seen in gardens here in California.  My client, who lives just south of San Francisco, had been her eye on the one in the Wayside Gardens catalogue and finally ordered her coveted specimen.  It arrived in a 2 gallon grow pot wrapped in paper and stood about 4′ tall.

We planted it with lots of compost in the moistest part of the garden where the all the water naturally drains off the hill.  It had been growing slowly, and with 3 careful prune jobs a year, had developed a beautiful trunk form with a nice shape.  So it was much to my surprise when I paid a visit in November of 2011 to discover that it had been “pruned” into what you see below. Action was required!

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This is the Pussy Willow “blob” in November 2011. Hey, where’s the weeping?

We had affectionately call this plant “Cousin Itt”, but after a bad haircut, Itt had turned into Bozo The Clown!  A weeping tree or shrub like this should be thinned out or just taken off the ground a bit – not all the way back to the trunk.  The very same applies to a climbing roses as it takes them a good amount of time to climb and that’s what you want.  

The picture above was taken in November of 2011 and fortunately some of the new branches had already started to weep by Spring.  In May of 2012 I whipped out my Felcos and pruning saw. I’ll take you on a step by step on how I got this Weeping Pussy Willow back to its glory days. IMG_4367_new

A close-up showing how thick that new growth was.

I went in and took out a lot of that new growth.  You must take it all the way back to a main branch or the trunk otherwise all those shoots will appear again.  I also removed some of the older main branches to open it up and bring it back to an interesting form.  

In the meantime, Cousin Itt had really started to lean because of the strong winds in this area so a lodge pole stake was pounded in to straighten him back up. IMG_4385_new

Here’s how looked after I was done. I left just a bit of the new growth shooting upward because we do want it to grow taller.

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A close up of the inner structure after I pruned it this past Spring. As you can see, I’ve taken a lot out.

Lots of new shoots always appear on the trunk. Those shoots, the smaller ones coming off the main weeping branches and a portion of the ones heading upward need to be removed too.  They’ll spoil the beautiful weeping form (and isn’t that the reason why you buy a plant like this?) as it’ll looks better when it’s thinned out a bit.  

These standard plants are sold grafted and will never get significantly taller than the height you bought it at. And this is exactly why the Weeping Pussy Willow will never get as tall as the upright Pussy willow.

I’ve since done a post and video about how I care for a Weeping Pussy Willow tree which you might find helpful.  I share all I know about it and outline the care tips.

I did a couple of rounds of restorative pruning letting it grow between each one.  Then I started in on the cosmetic pruning and this Weeping Pussy Willow looks dandy as can be. Make sure you know how a plant grows and how long it takes to recover before you have at it with the pruners!

A Link To Help You Out:

Before you tackle a job like this make sure your pruners are clean & sharp.  

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83 comments:

  1. Do you cut off the underside limbs of a weeping pussy willow? The underside limbs on mine are dead. The middle and outer limbs are perfectly healthy. Before I do anything to it, I want to make sure I don’t do anything to harm it. How and when should I cut off the dead limbs? Thanks for your help!!

  2. Hi Mona – Thanks for reading/watching our vlog! Weeping Pussy Willows are pretty tough. Yes, you certainly do remove all dead (or diseased) branches. The removal of any dead wood can be done any time, but not during the colder months when the temps are at freezing or below. Depending on where you are, this is a great time to do it. Make sure you cutting tools are clean & sharp. If the branch is half dead, take it all the way back to the main trunk. Cut any branches as close to the trunk as possible without nicking or injuring it. I hope that helps, Nell

  3. I finally got my weeping pussy willow tree, don’t know what to do with it, its about 1 1/2 feet tall, now that the green foliage is on not sure what to do, do I cut them off or let them grow, I understand about the whole pruning process of the limbs but not sure here, the foliage is all headed upwards so please help,,,,still learning.

  4. Hi Debbie – Your tree is really small so I’d just let it grow for the 1st season. If the foliage is heading upward & you want it to weep more, than prune that upward growth off. Once it starts to weep & grow more, you can leave some of that upward growth on to encourage it to get taller. You’re going to need to thin it out at some point because it gets very dense. I’ve found that this plant is very forgiving. I hope that helps, Nell

  5. I live in western kansas, our tree is about 4 feet tall , second season. When should we see leaves Appear on it? Thanks

  6. The branches are all drastically dying on my weepiokng pussy willow and I found a big cream colored mushy substance on the ground next to it.
    I don’t know what to do?

  7. Hi Chris – The catkins (the little fuzzies) appear before the leaves. If you had a cold winter, they may be a little late in appearing this spring. Where you are, the blooming should begin in mid-spring & then the leaves will follow. Hope that helps, Nell

  8. Hi Robbie – It’s hard to say exactly because Pussy Willows are subject to many diseases. What it sounds like is fireblight which is a fungal disease. Bacteria oozes out of cankers in the spring & that could be the cream colored “mushy stuff”. With fireblight, the branches die. To be 100% sure, I’d talk to a reputable nursery person in your area to see if that’s what could be going on. Hope that helps, Nell

  9. I have a 15 inch weeping pussy willow in a pot that I received as a gift a month ago. I live in southeast Michigan. When is a good time to plant it in the ground?

  10. Hi Kendra – Early spring & fall are the best times to plant your weeping pussy willow. Now would be great, as long as you aren’t getting any more freezes. And, be sure to keep it well watered so it can happily settle in. Hope that helps, Nell

  11. hi my question is that I bought what appeared to b a healthy 5-6 ft weeping pussy willow…put in the ground about a month ago…since then the branches all turned brown and dried so I pruned it back like uve stated in past… How long do you think it will take before new growth starts if it even does

  12. Hi Jess – Pussy Willows in general are vigorous, fast growers so you should see new growth appearing soon once the weather really starts to warm & the sun gets stronger where you are. In general, they leaf out sometime in spring (again, depending on your zone). By the way, pussy willows like constant moisture (in nature they grow by streams & swamps) so it sounds like yours dried out. They’re tough plants so I wouldn’t give up on it. Nell

  13. I absolutely love my 3 1/2 ft weeping pussy willow tree! At first it looked like a little parasol (I cut it back too much) but then decided to let it grow and weep, because it is a weeping tree. However, even tho I have thinned it out, it is growing vigoriously and looks bushy. The branches are finally almost to the ground. I have been snipping off the new shoots that are growing upward so alot of the trunk structure, at the crown, is showing. (is that okay?)I have tried to remove any crossing or touching branches, but it is still bushy. Should i cut some of the big branches off? Thin it out some more?

  14. Hi Leni – You can snip off the top shoots if you’d like but that’s how the plant gets taller. The trunk is a graft & usually won’t grow too much taller. Whether you thin it out is up to you. I like them thinned out because you can see the beautiful structure of the tree. Besides, if you don’t, then by the end of summer your tree will be super full of foliage. Hope that helps, Nell

  15. Thank you, Nell for your answer. I may have pinched off too much at the top (it looks a little bare now) and I did thin it out, but it definitely looks like a weeping tree now! (Instead of Cousin It) I do not want it too get too big as it is the centerpiece for a small front yard garden. I live in a wonderful neighborhood where families are always going for walks and if I am outside gardening people will stop and ask me about the tree. I will let the new foliage fill it out a little at the top. Thanks again! Love your website!!

  16. My pleasure Leni! With a little pruning & thinning, you & your neighbors will continue to love the WPW. Best, Nell

  17. hi my willow that is 4 feet tall did not bud any leafs at all and there was lost of new growth on the trunk from ground all the way up but my other one did the opposite looks healthy growing good has no clue on what to do for the one that looks dead I have been watering it every day and it’s still not growing on the top please help me

  18. I bought a pussy willow 8 weeks ago it still has no foilage on limbs. I am just starting to see some on trunk. Does this mean my limbs all died.? It never bloomed that I saw and does it drop the white pussy willow things off cause they are still there like the day I bought it. Not sure if I killed it.

  19. Hi David – The catkins (the fuzzy part which is actually a flower) falls off the branch & that gives way to the foliage. Without seeing it or knowing how it’s been cared for it’s hard to say if it’s dead. Pussy willows are very tough so it’s probably not. It could either be going through a bit of transplant shock or you let it go too dry. Just know that Pussy Willows need a good amount of water. Hope that helps, Nell

  20. Hi Kevin – Pussy Willows are 1 of the easiest shrubs out there & cold hardy too. It’s hard to say, but have you check for root damage? As you probably know, they like a good amount of sun & water. You might try watering it a bit less often & deeper. Scratch 2 or 3 of the branches to see if it’s dead. Best time to prune is late winter but you might try giving it a little trim now. Hope that helps, Nell

  21. Rosemary Nicholas

    My weeping pussy willow had plenty of catkins but never leafed out. The branches don’t feel brittle. We had a late freeze. Should I prune, or just leave it go? It looks pretty awful. Thanks, love your tips.

  22. Hi Rosemary – I’m always glad to provide tips. Pussy Willows are very tough but a late freeze can knock the foliage back. Scratch the stems, if they’re greenish or whitish, then they’re still alive. If it’s still alive, then prune it back by about 1/4 to 1/3. It should recover fine. Hope that helps, Nell

  23. Phyllis Chastain

    i planted my weeping pussy tree in early April. It had catkins on it already & they flowered. It also leafed out, but then the leaves turned brown & dry. I think it may be dead, even though; you say these trees are hardy. When I pruned the branches, I can’t tell whether they are dead or not. It is not dead wood,but it is not green either. This was a gift. Should I “contact the nursery where it was purchased or just continue to water it?

  24. Hi Phyllis – I would contact the nursery first & see what they say. Depending on their policy, it may be too late to return it. Live wood is greenish or whitish by the way. I hope that helps, Nell

  25. Hi Nell, I was so excited to buy my little weeping pussy willow, but now I think I hurt it. I transplanted it to a little bit bigger pot than it came in, and it got a good deal of green leaves on it and now they dried up and the little branches are a dark reddish brown. I hope I didn’t hurt it. I do keep it watered, but do not place it in the direct sun, help!!!!!

  26. Hi Susan – Pussy Willows are tough (the weeping ones are grafted by the way) but the smaller ones needs a little more attention to get going. In containers, they don’t like to dry out & that may be what happened to yours. Give it at least 4-6 hours of sun & keep well watered until it recovers. You should scratch a branch or 2 in different spots to make sure they’re still alive. Hope that helps, Nell

  27. Thank you so much for your advice. Our weeping pussy willow tree is about 10 years old & 6 foot tall. Most of the time it looks like Cousin It. We thought it very funny that you use that name too. It is nice to know that our tree is doing what everyone else’s is doing: very, very bushy; growing from the bottom & trunk;crisscrossing everywhere. Good grief! We learned today that we are pruning alittle too early & that we should leave some of the longer branches for the ‘weeping effect’. Every year we get a ‘new design’ in our tree. Thank goodness they are so hardy & hard to kill. Our question: Should a branch be cut off if it crosses over & rubs on another on? Thanks again for your great site.

  28. Hi Kathy – You’re certainly welcome! Oh, the Cousin Itts of the world do grow fast & very vigorously. Yes, cut out those branches that cross over. I do this with all trees & shrubs because it opens them up & gives a much better structure. Because the weeping variety of this plant is grafted, be sure to leave some of the branches that grow upward if you want it to get taller. If not, then prune them off. Thanks for the comment, Nell

  29. Hi Nell:

    I live in MD and the weather is in the 70/ 80’s here. Lots of rain this year. My weeping pussy willow is just growing like crazy! I thinned “Willow” out in May so the structure of the tree was a little visible and air could circulate. It has filled out again! Is it ok to keep pruning when new branches crisscross over other branches? Any suggestion for Japanese beetles? They are just terrible this year!

  30. Hi Leni – Oh sure, prune those branches that cross over back to a main branch or trunk. Don’t leave stubs because you’ll end up with a very dense, funny shape. Regarding the JB, we don’t have them around here. I grew up in CT on a farm & my dad had me pick them off & put them in a bucket of water. Bye, bye. It’s best to get them in the larval state but it’s too late now. You could try a spray with pyrethrins in it. Even though it’s a “natural” substance, there”s talk that they can be toxic to bees. If you use it, spray towards the evening when the bees are inactive. Nell

  31. I live in north suburbs of Chicago where it’s “cooler by the lake” My weeping pussy willow tree is needing pruning. You said you pruned 3x/yr? When should I prune? Can I prune it 1/3 as other shrubs? Very healthy but never pruned it. Need help on exactly what to do and when. Thanks.

  32. Hi Janet – The Pussy Willow that you see in the post & video is in the San Francisco Bay area so it grows very fast all year long – no freezes & no snow. Where you are, 2x year would probably do it. Do the 1st pruning after flowering & the 2nd towards the end of summer. Yes, pruning by 1/3 is fine. Remove all branches which are dead & those that crossover. Then, you can prune it in a manner pleasing to you. Hope that helps, Nell

  33. Hi Nell!
    My weeping pussy willow has a thicker, longer branch coming from the trunk on the left side that may be causing it to lean to the left. After I pruned “Willow”, and could see the structure of the trunk, I noticed this. Should I take this off to help balance the weight on both sides? Even tho I took alot of branches off, there are still crossing branches. It is early July here now, in MD.

  34. Sure Leni, take that branch off. You can leave the branches that cross over or take them off – depending on the look you want. I take them off so the plant doesn’t look like a big blob. Nell

  35. Good morning Nell. I’m hoping you can help.. I live in central New York, zone 5. Recently my neighbor was doing some landscaping and removed a 6 ft weeping pussy willow. (It was too big for his space.) He graciously offered me the tree so we planted it but I noticed that the 2 main tap roots had been broken off. A good amount of “hairy” root remained. We planted and I diligently watered daily. After 2 weeks the tree did show “some” regrowth. We hard pruned the dead branches and left whatever showed promise. Is there anything else that you can recommend that might help the tree to “come back”. There is a lot of growth on the trunk which we left. Should that be pruned back also. We thought the tree might need it to help in the recouperation process. Thanks for the help!

  36. Hi Diana – I always leave a plant be (except for removing dead or damaged branches, stems,flowers, etc) following transplant so it can settle in. I’d take off the growth on the trunk though because you ultimately don’t want that there. Let the tree be & see how it does. A generous topdressing of compost wouldn’t hurt at all. Pussy willows are very hardy so it should revive. Nell

  37. July 20th, 2015 at 6:22 pm
    Hi Nell….I have a beautiful pussy willow tree that I planted this spring. I must say, the growth rate of my tree is fast. The branches of my beautiful tree is touching the ground. I want to prune it by trimming the branches back, but I’m afraid it may be to early to do so. My question is, can I do so now, without stunting its growth or preventing it from flowering next season? Also, can I use the cut branches of my tree to grow another, and how can this be done? I live in NC. Thank you for all the helpful posts,

  38. Hi Candy – Pussy willows grow so very fast. So yes, you can trim the branches back a bit to get them off the ground. They are very easy to propagate by stem cuttings in either water or in a mix for propagation. However, Pussy Willow trees are grafted (in short, the branches are put onto a trunk) so what you’ll end up with is a Pussy willow bush, not a Pussy Willow tree. Hope that helps, Nell

  39. Hi Nell
    We planted two weeping pussy willows in the spring of 2014. They both grew to approx 5 to 6 ft. This spring we had a lot of late frost. We live in Montana .. They struggled, and know appear dead. Then out of no where they have both started growing a multitude of shoots from the bottom. What is your suggestion. Cut the original off at base now since it’s dead? And what will all these shoots resemble if we let them grow? Thanks

  40. Hi Bruce – Pussy Willows are extremely tough & vigorous, but as I told a Youtube viewer, a late frost will knock them back. I would cut all those shoots off. Don’t cut the trunk all the way down because that is what the top is grafted onto. You want to leave that base as is otherwise it will turn into a bush. Hope that helps, Nell

  41. Hi Nell,
    I have a monster weeping pussy willow that just grows and grows. I’ve never really pruned it but I do cut off dead stuff and keep it off the ground. However, it is just getting TOO big. It’s about 8 feet tall mow and I can’t hope to control it anymore. It’s a foundation plant so it’s close to the house, and soon it will grow taller than the window it’s in front of. I’m tempted to cut off all of it’s branches and the top of it’s trunk in the Fall and hope it will start over in Spring. It’s a very pretty tree but soon it will be growing under the eave of the roof and that will be a big problem. Will it survive my attempt to ‘start over’? I live in the Seattle area. Thanks!

  42. Hi Suzanne – Yes, pussy willows do grow like crazy! Here’s the thing with taking the trunk down: the weeping branches are grafted onto the trunk. If you take the trunk down below the graft (if it does survive that – I’ve never done it before) you’ll lose the weeping form. Hope that helps! Nell

  43. Hello
    I purchased a grafted weeping pussy willow in a six inch pot at supermarket. The little tree is approx 2 feet tall. It has long branches and plenty of leaves. When can I plant it in my yard and when can I prune it. I saw a video where the branches were cut right back to the top but it says to prune after the catkins have bloomed. Please help. Thank you for listening.

  44. Hi Lynn – It depends on where you live, but generally late summer/early fall or early spring after danger of frost has passed is the best time to plant one. The 1 you see in this blog post is probably 15 – 20 years old now. I waited at least a year to prune this 1 to let it settle in. Yes, after the catkins have bloomed is the best time to prune. I pruned this 1 at least 3 times a year but remember, it’s just south of San Francisco, a temperate climate. Nell

  45. Hello Nell, We thought we’d lost our 5 year old tree this spring to winter kill, zone 5 Idaho. The tree was approximately 6 ft tall perfectly formed. When it didn’t flower or leaf and branches were brittle. I cut it off at about 3 feet above the ground thinking I would be taking out the trunk a bit later. then shoots started around the ground not on the trunk. I left three of the most vigorous shoots which were next to the trunk. Those shoots are now about 6 ft ~ 7 ft tall with no signs of taking the weeping form, they are just growing straight and tall next to the original trunk, again they are not shoots on the trunk. We’d purchased the original tree when it was about the diameter of man’s finger and about 3 ft tall, from Home Depot, at that time it was already showing the weeping form that we like so much. What would your advice be to us, do you think it will eventually start the weeping form.

  46. Hi Rex – The Weeping Pussy Willows are grafted. What that means, is the weeping part is grafted onto the trunk of the “regular” (shrub, not weeping) Pussy Willow. In simple terms, the graft is the knobby, swollen part at the top of the trunk where the weeping branches that are grafted on emerge from. I’m sorry to tell you that you’ve lost your Weeping Pussy Willow & all your have now is the shrub Pussy Willow. How to get your Weeping Pussy Willow back: buy a new 1. And, be sure to never prune the grafted part off! It’s not the answer you want but I hope it helps. Nell

  47. Hello Nell, I’ve had my weeping pussy willow tree for a good 7 years…..the last couple of years, there’s hardly any leaves on it. It barren….but there are still some new shoots that I see and some growing from the trunk. How can I save it? It is very top heavy – I’ve never thinned it out….do I do that now in the beginnings of fall? Do I cut back to the trunk? Does it need special fertilizer??

  48. Hi Michele – The optimum time to prune your Weeping Pussy Willow is in the early spring so hold off on any major pruning until then. That being said, you can thin it out a bit right now. I prune the one you see in this post 2 or 3 times a year because it’s in a temperate climate & grows like crazy. In the spring when the catkins (the “fuzzies) are on it, do the bulk of the thinning out. You can prune the remaining branches down to 12” from the trunk to rejuvenate. You can thin out more as the season progresses if you need to. Heads up – a late spring freeze can deter the flowering & the production of leaves. In regards to fertilizer, none is required. If you want, give it a good dose of organic compost this fall & then again in late spring. Hope that helps! Nell

  49. Pingback: Weeping Pussy Willow Tree Care Tips - |

  50. I just brought a 2 foot weeping pussy willow and Im wondering how to prune to get it taller?

  51. Hi Jawaan – I talk about that in this post & video: https://www.joyusgarden.com/weeping-pussy-willow-care-tips/ You basically let the branches that are growing upwards grow – you’ll see it in the video. Hope this helps, Nell

  52. My new, foot and half bush was just planted yesterday. A few of the branches are on the ground, should I cut those back and how far back should I cut the branch? Also, do you pure cut the same way as I prune other bushes-right below a bud?
    Thanks.

  53. Hi Karen – Do you have the bush form or the tree form? Nell

  54. I have the hand grafted weeping pussy willow tree.

  55. Karen – Yes, I like to keep the branches off the ground. Because your tree is small, just take the branches up an inch or so. Just below a bud is best & I like it to be an outward facing bud. I always take my cuts at an angle. Nell

  56. Hi Nell,
    My weeping pussy willow is very brown and there’s only sprouts at the trunk. Is it dead?

  57. Hi Renee – I’m not sure what growing zone you’re in & it’s hard to say without seeing it but your PW tree may or may not recover. Perhaps it was starting to bud out & you had a hard frost. The sprouts at the base are because the top part is grafted onto a bush form. Nell

  58. I have recently bought my first weeping willow, I found your web site very help full, and the following questions and answers very informative, I intend to put it into a large pot in my garden, it is spring time now in Bromley, Kent, England.Pat

  59. Thank you Patricia. This plant takes a little work pruning wise, but in my opinion, it’s well worth it. I was in Kent many years ago touring gardens at the end of June – it was lovely. I really enjoyed my time there. All the best, Nell

  60. Hi, can I plant my weeping pussy willow tree in a large barrel that also as Ivy in it? I wanted to plant it as a tree in my fairy garden while it is still small for the first year and then I planned to replant it in the ground this fall or next spring. Not sure how large the roots get or if the ivy itself would strangle the plant since ivy grows crazy (I do have the ivy pruned to one outer section of the barrel so the tree would be on the opposite side. thank you

  61. I just planted my 2ft weeping pussy willow tree, and the branches are touching the ground. I was just curious to know if I could cut the branches so they don’t hang so low. If I do this, will I destroy the branches or the tree?

  62. Hi Heather – If it’s only for a season, it shouldn’t be a problem. Yes, ivy is a vigorous grower & over time can inhibit the WPW from getting the water it needs. Also, sounds like the ivy is on 1 side so no worries for the short haul. Nell

  63. Hi Aneta – Yes, you can trim up the branches off the ground but I’d wait a month or 2 so the plant can settle in a bit in its new home. You’ll find that the Weeping Pussy Willows grow very vigorously because they are the shrub form grafted on a trunk & because of this, they need a good pruning at least once a year. Happy gardening, Nell

  64. Aneta,
    I had a weeping pussy willow that got fatally attacked by metallic bluish beetles (a tad smaller than lady bugs), which I think were willow leaf beetles. I want to try another tree. What can I do to protect this tree from the beetles?
    Second: I’ve seen posts suggesting weeping pussy willows will grow in part-shade. Is that true?
    Thanks so much!
    Darcy

  65. Hi Darcy – Beetles can be destructive (that’s putting it mildly!) but I haven’t had a lot of experience with them in years. Growing up in New England the Japanese Beetles were rampant but I’ve lived on the CA coast for 30 years now & they aren’t a problem here (at least where I am). I do know that you should spray the foliage with Neem Oil or Pyrethrins when you 1st see evidence of them. There are beetle traps which you can place next to the plant which are another options. I do know that they hatch from grubs out of the lawn so if they’re a big problem, you might want to look into a natural treatment for that. By the way, the Weeping Pussy Willow will grow in part shade. In this post I say “part sun” but that’s the same thing: https://www.joyusgarden.com/weeping-pussy-willow-care-tips/ Hope that helps! Nell

  66. Hi! Do weeping pussy willows have a soil pH preference? I am trying to find a plant partner for Oakleaf Hydrangeas which want a 6.8-7.2 pH. Thank you!

  67. Hi Natalie – I’ve found that they like it slightly on the acidic side but they’re not particularly fussy at all in terms of soil. The 1 that I talk about here grows in the same bed as 2 rhodies, 5 hydrangeas (1 of them an oak leaf), hellebores, pieris, ferns & astilbes. It will grow fine with that oak leaf. Hope that helps! Nell

  68. Hi, I live in Mid Michigan and I have had a weeping pussy willow for about 3 years now. About 4 weeks ago my willow started getting its catkins/buds and then we had a frost. The tree seemed to be frozen in time since, in fact, it is the end of May and it looks like the first picture of this blog. No catkins nor leaves have grown. Yesterday I easily broke the end of some of the branches, but when I moved up on the branches, they didn’t break. Can you please offer some advise? Is it dead? What can I do?

  69. Hi Diane – A late freeze after the catkins have appeared will knock them back for this year. You won’t getting any flowering. The plants are so hardy that there’s no need to worry – it should still be alive. In this case, the foliage will appear later than it normally does. Hope that helps,
    Nell

  70. Nell, Thanks for the information. Yesterday, I cut it back significantly to what appeared to be all live branches. I would really hate to lose it. My little grand daughter calls it our woosey puss tree. Hopefully I can get back with you and let you know all is good. Thanks again for the information!

  71. Nell,
    I am thankful for finding your page! I have 2 weeping pussy willows that I planted spring of 2015. Did a great job last summer etc… but this spring only one did the yellow puffy thing and has full green leaves on it. The other one only has pussies on it… and most branches felt dead… so, I pruned them all back to the main branches.. it looks hideous… BUT there are lots of green leaves coming now! I assume I didnt kill it? and should I do any thing special for it til the branches start? Fertilizer etc..
    Also, I bought then at about 4′ tall and they havent gotten any taller. I would like them to be. How do I encourage that?
    Thank you so much!

  72. Hi Tracy – Pussy Willows are tough as you can see here. Your care questions are answered in this post I recently did: https://www.joyusgarden.com/weeping-pussy-willow-care-tips/ In terms of height, they grow slowly. Just leave the branches that are growing upwards & yours will get taller. /the 1 that you see in these posts was under 4′ when I planted it & now it’s around 8′ tall. Nell

  73. Hi Nell,
    I wrote you May 24th and told you my saga about the frost and my weeping pussy willow. Well the latest update is that my tree is still absolutely bald, not a leave on any of the well trimmed branches. However, I am pleased to report that there are leaves growing out of the ground at the base of the tree (suckers). Will my tree come back next year? Can I transplant/grow a tree from the suckers? Should I trim back these suckers like I typically do on my healthy tree?

  74. Hi Diane – The suckers are coming from the grafted trunk, which is Pussy Willow bush stock so the answer is no. You can’t grow a tree from those. I always take them off. I really can’t tell you if your tree will come back or not because I don’t know all the conditions which caused it. If you scratch the wood at the end of summer & it’s still green, there’s a very good chance it will. Nell

  75. I received a shoot about 3 ft tall planted it in the fall of last year
    Then in the spring it looked to be dead I removed the branches off the stalk and left the stalk now it has grown what I think is a new stalk and it is about 5 ft tall and new growth at ground level is this normal ? What should we do with it
    My email is gardenstpower@yahoo.com

  76. Hi Ernie – Are you talking about a shoot which has come off the base of your Weeping Pussy Willow? It’s not quite clear from your comment/question. Nell

  77. I am so grateful to find your site. I think I have been pruning my Weeping Pussy Willow all wrong, among other things. Its planted on a slight slope and always wanted to lean down hill and when we staked it and kept it upright for a year or so, the trunk now has (on the downhill facing side) like a ripped, torn scar going down the entire length of the trunk. The sides of the scar look kind of folded in towards the tear. It still continues to produce lots of new growth be extremely bushy but it hasn’t produced catkins in a few years, which makes me so sad. I pruned it up off the ground into a shorter parasol shape the year before last thinking the foliage was just too heavy for it and it just got wider and wider! Now after watching your videos I know why! I pruned it again this week (which I now read is too early…face palm), taking a lot of the under growth out and letting it weep a little more hoping that will help it. I know I have probably tried to help it a little too much but any another advice? Especially to encourage it to bloom catkins? Thank you SO much for your time!

  78. Hi Melissa – I’m glad you found our site also. I always thin this WP out really well after flowering (because the flowers form on the growth from the previous season) & then a couple of lighter prunings throughout the season. There are a couple of reasons yours may not be flowering: not enough light, improper pruning (taking off too much of the previous season’s growth) or you simply have a bad graft. Nell

  79. Hi Nell–the branches on “Willow” are turning brown and not leaves are growing on them. The deer eat the leaves on the side facing the road. Should I prune them back or is it too close to winter for a hard prune?

  80. Hi Leni – I’m not sure where you live but there should be enough time to do a pruning. I wouldn’t do too hard a pruning now, just a light or moderate 1 dpending on the age of the plant. Nell

  81. Hi

    I am not sure how to prune my weeping pussy willow. I can’t seem to post a picture here. So I will try and describe it to you.

    The willows are going from white fuzzy to yellow pollen type buds, but above them are still small white fuzzy buds.

    Do I trim off the yellow pollen buds just above them?

    Thanks
    kim

  82. Hi Kim – The best time to prune this plant is when the catkins are still on it. On the upright PW you prune just above the node (or bud in this case). With the Weeping Pussy Willow, you prune just below the node. Nell

  83. Hi Nell

    I just got a grafted weeping pussy willow tree. It’s just below 2 feet. When I got it, it has a bunch of long hanging branches with the white fuzzy stuff. Some of the leaves are starting to appear because the fuzzy stuff fell off. I read a comment where you said it’s ok to skip pruning for 1 season since the plant was so small. My question is, what happens if I never prune it.
    Once all the white fuzzy things fall off, and the leaf starts to take it’s place, what’s next? My assumption is that the leaf will fall off too and hopefully next spring the white fuzzy things will come back, and this cycle continues.

    -Thanks,

  84. Hi Yan – Yes, the leaves will fall off too & the cycle will repeat itself. This plant grows very full & dense with a lot of suckers on the trunk & at the base. I prune this plant on a regular basis because otherwise it turns into a big blob. Also, the branches will hit the ground & I believe they can take root. Nell

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