Pruning and Propagating a Japanese Dappled Willow

Yet again I found myself taking more cuttings of a Japanese dappled willow (Salix integra). Sometimes I just can’t help myself. Or maybe I do help myself? Whatever the case I brought home with us a bunch of willow branches for propagating. They came off of the sides of the mother plant because it had begun impeding the pathway to the garden and needed to be trimmed. I haven’t had the time yet to stick the willow cuttings from these branches into potting medium yet to make more willows but when I do I expect to have 30-40 possible plants. That sounds like quite a few but many of them will go to a plant swap with me in the spring. They were very popular last year and I’m hoping their popularity continues.

To hold my willow cuttings temporarily I picked up this glass vase from the garage and filled it with water.  The red stems actually look fairly attractive in the vase.  Many of the branches are long and could make several new plants.  I went ahead and stuck three of the larger branches outside along our property line to replace plants that didn’t make it due to a deer with a serious case of the munchies.

I also put a couple on our front hillside ridge to one day fill in a privacy screen from our neighbors on the hill.  Once the blend of willows, Leyland cypress, and redbuds grow up a little it should help to create more privacy.

Dappled willows are smaller trees or large shrubs that grow somewhere around 10 feet tall.  They could be taller or smaller depending on the soil conditions.  Willows can be propagated very easily just by sticking a hardwood branch in soil and keeping it moist, no rooting hormone is needed.  Alternately willows can be rooted by placing the branches in a glass of water.  Sounds challenging right?

Pruning a Dappled Willow

When Dappled Willows get large they can take a hard pruning (coppicing). Here are two videos of that process (before and after).


After (3 months later)

9 thoughts on “Pruning and Propagating a Japanese Dappled Willow”

  1. I purchased two of these (Hakuri Nishiki) drastically marked down at the Madisonville Lowes last fall. I so hope they come back and have been keeping your advice in mind. Lots of water. It may be an issue. I say help yourself all you want-cutttings don’t hurt the plant.

  2. I need some of those willow saplins please Dave. They’re really good to use in making rustic trellies because they bend so easily. Maybe I could start me a patch somewhere. Do you have a suggestion for a variety that would do well here in zone 5?

  3. If you have the time and patience, I think it’s a great idea! Plus, you have a demand for that kind of thing…My favorite tree is a willow, but I’ve never thought about a Japanese willow. I suppose it’s roots wouldn’t be invasive, as a taller one would be. Maybe it’s something I could consider. The cuttings do look pretty in the vase!

  4. Hi Dave, now that’s the method I like best, just stick it in the ground! Even a caveman could do it. 🙂 Sorry. I stuck a bunch of these in the ground at Semi’s, along with a few curly willow stems too. They are all huge and she won’t let me prune the dappled ones. I was wondering how big they would get unpruned, too big! I cut mine to the ground every spring to get that pink and white foliage of the new growth and also to keep them from taking over. I like them to be the size of a medium perennial, so they get lots of pruning. I do love to prune so that is fine. Your screen is going to be wonderful and give lots of privacy too.

  5. I bought one of these willows about three years ago at a Kmart and we planted in our backyard by the deck. It started out at about 20" high and now 3 years later it is over 7' tall. I love it but my husband wants to trim it back. Last year when he did this the new leaves were only green. It is also quite wide and I think I will do as you did and trim out some of the branches. Would like to get a few more but we do have a problem with deer. Happy to read your page.

    BG at Southport, Ct.

    June 12.2010

  6. I bought 12 willows from Lowes 4 years ago. They were in bad shape and on clearance so I said what the heck. 10 have survived and grown to 9 feet tall and a quite impressive natural fence. They need nothing and I rarely prune them except to keep them out of the driveway. I am a lazy gardener and I love the way these look. A must for everyone. I put some clippings in water without leaves and they are growing roots like crazy. The more the merrier. Get some you will not be disapointed.

    1. I am moving, and just took my willow bush out of the ground and potted it so I can take it with me. I pruned it and took three branches. I took the leaves ofd the last six inches or so of the branches and put them in cups of water in my front room. Do I need to strip all the leaves off? I would love for these to root.

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