In folk art, willow is most often found as a symbol of sadness, and at the same time beauty. Tall, beautiful, sprawling trees are found along roads, along rivers and ponds. Long branches of willow descend to the ground, moreover, with an excess of moisture in the soil, they are able to emit droplets of water, therefore, willow is called a weeping.
Thanks to the work of breeders, there are now many willow hybrid varieties that are widely used in ornamental gardening.
Willow genus includes almost 600 species of plants. Moreover, it can be both trees and shrubs. Most of them grow in the cooler part of the northern hemisphere, in Eurasia and North America. The closer to the cold regions, the smaller the size of plants that have mastered the climate. The smallest representatives of the species are found in the northern regions, and they are so small that their height does not exceed the height of the moss.
In most species, the shoots are flexible, thin, the leaves are narrow, long, pointed both from the outer edge and at the petiole. Willow blooms in spring, before the first leaves, small flowers are collected in earrings. Some species bloom after blooming leaves. After flowering, the fruit is formed in the form of a box with seeds. Small, light seeds are carried by the wind over great distances. Outdoors, they retain their germination for a short time, but when released into the water they can wait for favorable conditions for several years.
The most common and often found in the middle lane representative of the genus is a weeping willow. An adult tree reaches 25-30 m in height and lives for about 100 years. The trunk of a willow is powerful, the bark is gray, at the bottom of the tree is covered with cracks. The crown of the white willow is wide, spreading, piercing. The leaves are dark green, smooth, shiny, bright underside, covered with whitish fuzz. In calm weather, the tree is green, but with a light breeze the leaves move, turning their underside, and the foliage of the tree appears white.
Light and medium loamy soils are best suited for planting. The place is chosen well lit, sunny or light penumbra. In the full shadow of willow does not grow. Even in nature, willows are not found in the wilderness of the forest, although they feel great on the edge. For planting willow, you can use the site with a close location of groundwater.
Willows with a closed root system are planted at any time of the year, from early spring to late autumn, provided that the seedling sits with a clod of earth from the planting container. The optimal time for planting seedlings with an open root system is early spring, before bud breaks, or autumn, after the end of sap flow.
It should be borne in mind that varieties with low frost resistance during autumn planting will not have time to properly take root, therefore, when planting in autumn, the ground under the saplings is mulched with dry leaves of trees and shrubs, and the saplings themselves are covered with spruce leaves.
- Dig a landing hole. For shrub forms, the size of the pit is 50 cm in diameter, for woody - 60 cm, 40 cm deep. For a willow sapling with a closed root system, the pit is dug to the size of a ground coma.
- When planting on heavy clays, drainage is necessary; for this, 20-30 cm of sand or rubble are poured at the bottom of the landing pit.
- Prepare a nutrient mixture of soil, compost and peat, mixed in equal parts. Add an azofosca at the rate of 200 g per plant and mix thoroughly.
- Fill the planting pit with one third of the prepared soil and place a seedling in it.
- A sapling is filled up, the ground is tamped down so that a pit is formed around the seedling to facilitate irrigation.
- Under each seedling poured 2 buckets of water.
- If the seedling is high, for the first time it is possible to establish a support stake for fixing the vertical position of the tree.
In order for willows to develop quickly and look attractive, one should know the individual needs of these plants and the features of caring for them. Growing willow requires the most attention during the first time after planting.
Weeping willow is a moisture-loving plant, so it needs frequent watering and spraying. Young plants grow very quickly, especially in the first years of life, some varieties are able to grow up to 3 meters per year. Saplings are watered once a week, at the rate of 2-5 buckets of water per plant. Watering is done early in the morning or in the evening, after sunset. During irrigation water is poured not only at the root, but also on the crown of the plant.
At the beginning of the growing season, the soil under the willow is loosened, mulched with peat. The plant is fed complex fertilizers. In total, these dressings spend 2-3 per season, the last dressing is carried out in July. In the second half of August, superphosphate and potassium sulphate are introduced under willows.
Do not leave the fallen leaves of willow under the tree, as it contains tannins, which adversely affect the development of the plant.
The first 2-3 years willow grows uncontrollably, and it is not necessary to cut it. Then the tree or shrub rises and there is a need for its formation. The best time to conduct formative pruning of willow is spring, after the end of flowering. The exceptions are frozen in the winter or broken dry twigs, which are cut in early spring.
Do not be afraid to cut the willow twigs, it will not bring any harm to the plant. Sprigs of ornamental species are cut by 10–20 cm, then side shoots are formed from the remaining upper buds, and the plant acquires an attractive dense crown. Mature trees are cut each year, cutting off their long branches hanging to the ground at a height of 2 m from the ground.
Pruning achieve both a spherical or umbrella type of shrubs and trees, and a regular rectangular shape when planting willows as a hedge.
Reproduction by cutting
- Cuttings are cut in the spring, before the leaves appear. Better for rooting suitable woody parts of shoots of one to two years of age. The lower cut is made oblique, the top is cut off. The cuttings of tall species are cut to a length of 30-40 cm; for shrub forms, a cutting of 15-20 cm is sufficient.
- Before planting, the cuttings of willow are dipped into the root solution for 18-24 hours.
- Ready planting material is stuck into the ground so that 2-3 buds remain above the soil level. The stalk is allowed both vertically and at an angle to the ground. When landing under a slope, the lower part is positioned in the direction of the south or southeast.
- Water the soil every day 1-2 times a day, so that the earth was constantly wet.
- The soil around young saplings is regularly weeded away from weeds, since at an early stage of development a weak plant is slaughtered with high weeds.
Cuttings can be germinated at home, for this they are placed in a jar of water, and waiting for the first roots, then planted in the ground.
Green cuttings are also successfully rooted, which are cut during the growing season. To do this, the apical bud and lower leaflets are removed from the cutting 15–20 cm long, and the upper ones are shortened. The handle is stuck into the wet nutrient mixture and greenhouse conditions are arranged for it, covered with a can. If the seedlings need a lot, form a greenhouse with a film. Plantation of green cuttings 50-90%, depending on the conditions created for rooting.
Propagation by layering and grafting willow
Not all willows reproduce by cuttings, for some only reproduction by layering is suitable, or grafting on a stem.
- For reproduction by layering basal shoots with formed roots in early spring, they are dug out, the cut roots of the seedling are treated with fungicides, and the plant is planted in a new place, observing all the rules of planting a new seedling.
- Some species of willows are grown only on a shtambe, therefore, in order to obtain a varietal plant, a sprig of the desired varietal plant is grafted onto a stem of the desired height.
Of the fungal diseases in the willow, powdery mildew, rust, various types of spots, scab are found. The emergence and development of fungal diseases contributes to increased humidity, which has arisen as a result of steady long rainy weather. To combat such diseases, decorative willow varieties are treated with fungicides for prophylaxis twice a season — in spring and autumn, and also during the season when the first signs of the disease are detected. Tall tall varieties of trees are sheared so that their branches do not touch the ground. Spores of fungi overwinter in fallen leaves and again hit the plants in spring. Without a timely fight, colonies of fungi grow, and the willow can die.
Regularly inspect the bark and branches of willows, since the appearance of necrotic signs requires the application of timely measures to combat the disease and prevent its development and transfer to other plants. Infected branches are removed until healthy wood is treated. Avoid mechanical damage to the bark of trees, through which, as a rule, carriers of diseases.
Prophylactic treatments for cytosporic and diplodin necrosis are performed in August. If the treatment was not carried out in summer, it should be carried out in May. One treatment per season is enough.
In willow, there are also pests. Caterpillars of willow silkworm-moth eats leaves, as a result of which a shrub or tree loses its decorative appearance. To combat the pest, the masonry found on the leaves and bark is removed, the hatched larvae and white butterflies are harvested by hand and destroyed.
Aphid sucks plant sap, young buds and leaves fall off. Aphid eggs hibernate on the bark of a tree, and without a struggle with the pest, next year new colonies of aphids appear. For prevention, avoid planting plants that are loved by a pest near willow. Affected plants are treated with insecticides.
Willow species and varieties
Among the willows are high trees, shrubs and creeping species. All of them grow quickly, adapt well to the habitat, and are amenable to shearing and shaping. Consider the varietal characteristics of some of them.
1. Iva Matsudana - tall tree, up to 10-12 m, grows naturally in Korea and China. More often for growing use its decorative form, which grows in the form of a bush, its branches are curved, the crown is highly decorative, openwork. Landing requires a sunny, well-lit place.
2. Willow - high sprawling shrub. The leaves are oblong, oval, shoots are red or yellowish. The shape of the shrub and its leaves resemble a fern. Blossoms in dark red earrings, emitting a pleasant aroma. In nature, it grows in damp meadows. Decorative varieties of willow monolithic:
- Hakuro Nishiki willow is a small-sized shrub or tree with a spherical crown. It has unusually decorative foliage and shoots. Young leaves are pink-white, shoots are red or olive.
- Pendula willow is a creeping shrub that looks most advantageous when grafting on shtamb.
3. Willow, or Norway willow - shrub or tree with a strong growth force, in nature it grows near a pond, prefers sandy soil. The branches are thin, flexible, young shoots are red, with a waxy coating. The leaves are long, pointed, gray-gray at the bottom. Unpretentious view, easily propagated by cutting.
4. Willow fragile, or rakita, differs from its relatives by the shape of the branches of the leaves. Its shoots are fragile, olive-green, the leaves are elongated, pointed, with a serrate edge, on the underside of a blue tint. The crown of a natural species is round, asymmetrical, openwork. The spherical shape of the willow Bulat variety, which has a thick even rounded shape, is used as a decorative species.
5. Willow of Babylon - tall tree with a chic weeping crown. It grows up to 15 m, the diameter of the crown reaches 9 m. It is successfully used in landscaping parks and ponds. The leaves are long, narrow, serrate, blooms after blooming leaves.
6. Willow goat - the most common species in landscaping. This tree is up to 10 m with a thick crown and wide oval leaves. Young leaves are pubescent, with time the upper part becomes smooth. It blossoms with large earrings, decorative forms reproduce by cuttings, in nature - with seeds. Many varieties of decorative forms of this species have been developed. The most interesting of them are:
- Zilberglyants is a highly decorative variety, especially good during flowering due to the large number of large fragrant earrings. The leaves are wide, oval. It tolerates partial shade, frost resistance is high.
- Mas - tree or shrub up to 10 m, spreading crown, blooms profusely. Decorative properties has a male form.
- Weeping - standard male form of the plant. It grows to a maximum of 3 meters. Multiple branches hang thickly down to the ground. Earrings are numerous, with a pleasant aroma. Very fast growing, hardy and shade-tolerant.
Hakuro Nishiki willow
Willow fragile, or rakita
Willow goat weeping
Varietal willow varieties are used for landscaping city parks, design decoration of gardens and park areas. The bark and branches of willows are used for medical purposes, as well as as a material for weaving baskets, furniture. The willows have shown themselves to be excellent as plants used as a hedge. Unpretentiousness and rapid growth make it possible to grow a real fence in 2-3 years, which not only serves as a site fencing from uninvited guests, but also decorates it with its unusual attractive appearance.