Buckle up. As of today there are 23 days until spring. A few of you might have warmer temperatures, like in Florida….or…only Florida. A lot of you may see a little bit more of snow and ice this year. However, we won’t let the cold suppress our gardening and landscaping spirits will we?! There’s an amazing tree that grows incredibly fast that you can plant in your garden right now! It’s the Willow Hybrid and we’re going to tell you all about it!
What is it?
Our Willow Hybrid has ‘willow,’ in its name, but it certainly doesn’t look like the Weeping Willow trees that we’re used to seeing. Turns out there are a lot of different willow varieties, and even the Weeping Willow is a hybrid cross. These hybrids can be manmade, but also occur very naturally in the wild for willows.
The Willow Hybrid is a cross between the Salix Alba and Salix Matsudana. The Salix Alba is more commonly known as the ‘White Willow’ due to its light green leaves with white undertones. The Salix Alba has upright branches. It’s a deciduous variety native to parts of central Asia and Europe. This willow variety has very strong wood that’s most commonly used in making cricket bats. Tannin is also found in the bark, which is used to tan leather.
The Salix Matsudana is a fast growing willow variety that’s more commonly known as the ‘Chinese Willow’. It’s native to Northern China and is known for its weeping branches, fast growth, and small narrow green leaves. Salix Matsudanas are often used as beautiful ornamental trees.
Willow Hybrid Uses
When the two cross to make the Salix matsudana x alba we get the best of both worlds! The Willow Hybrid is strong and extremely fast growing. They can grow to around six or more feet a year. They just take off! You know what valuable thing you can get with a fast growing tree? Instant privacy! Willow Hybrids will block out your neighbors.
Willow Hybrids also create wind breaks. If your yard has big cold drafts that come in, you can use a few Willow Hybrids to block it! Wind can actually cause a little trouble for more sensitive trees, like flowering or fruiting trees. It may be worth your while to create a wind screen for them. Also, if your drive way builds up a lot of snow, use a few willow hybrids to block it and keep your driveway clear.
This hybrid variety also has an extremely strong root system. It’s extremely adaptable to almost any soil condition. Rocky, loamy, or even soil that’s heavy in clay is fine for this tree. Combined with its cold tolerance, this tree can survive almost anywhere in the country. It can survive cold temperatures down to about -20 degrees, and is recommended for growing zones 4 – 9. That covers Washington to Florida!
The strong root system also helps prevent erosion. They’re perfect to plant on the sides of hills and gullies. Also, Willow Hybrids are commonly used in areas that are prone to flooding in order to help control rising water levels. If your yard is prone to flooding, or has annoying puddles that seem to stay for days, Willow Hybrids can help!
Aside from those obvious benefits, Willow Hybrids are perfect for ornamental trees. They’re beautiful! Either has a hedge, privacy fence, or standing on their own, Willow Hybrids have beautiful deep green leaves! They provide a beautiful back drop for homes and more colorful plants to pop against.
Willow Hybrid Care
Before planting your Willow Hybrid Trees consider their size. They can grow between 35 to 45 feet tall in rows, and 75 feet tall on their own. Also, they can grow to be about 20 to 30 feet wide. Unless you plan on pruning them to keep them at a certain size, make sure that they aren’t too close to your driveway or home. For a privacy fence you can plant them as close as 5 feet apart.
Willow Hybrids will thrive in full to partial sunlight, and will tolerate your natural soil. Just be sure that your trees get enough water. Willow Hybrids are thirsty trees, and often do extremely well planted near rivers and ponds. Make sure that they get at least an inch of water a week, and increase the amount of water they get during times of drought. For a deep watering, hold your hose at the base of each tree and count to 20. Place mulch around the bases of your trees in order to retain moisture and keep weeds at bay.
You can give your Willow Hybrid Trees an extra boost with fertilizer in the early spring and early summer with a well balanced fertilizer like formula 10-10-10.
Prune your Willow Hybrid in the early spring. Make your cuts at 45 degree angles facing upwards to promote new growth. Cut branches towards the inside to thin your tree. To heavily prune your trees and maintain their size cut the branches back to about 1/3rd of their original size.
Spring is Coming, We Promise!
We know you guys are itching to get out and plant. Personally, we’re ready for warmer temperatures too! Consider the Willow Hybrid as a fun tree to stand up to Old Man Winter. Its fast growth will amaze you. Willow Hybrids are tough and versatile trees that can be used as hedges, natural privacy fences, ornamental trees and more. Plant them during any time of the year and watch them thrive!