Oct 182008
Japanese Dappled Willow Cuttings (Salix integra)

In the world of plants there are few that are easier to root than a willow. Whether you have a weeping willow, contorted willow, or dappled willow they all root very easily. In most cases all you need to do is stick a branch in the ground, keep it watered and it will grow! In fact I just did that with several green weeping willow cuttings a couple weeks ago and they are leafing out perfectly. Recently I took a few cuttings from a Japanese Dappled Willow (Salix integra) to root. I made about six cuttings of varying thickness about 8-12 inches long. I didn’t stick them in soil as I mentioned earlier but put them in a small opaque vase filled with water. A week later nearly all the cuttings have rooted.

The leaves that were on the branches all dried up so I stripped all the remaining leaves off the willow branches. This actually works well for two reasons:

1)The stem cutting can concentrate better on growing roots without trying to save the leaves.
2)New leaves sprouting are good indicators of rooting.

In the picture on the left you can see the newly formed roots pushing out away from the stem. The first two pictures show the newly formed leaves that grew once the new roots had formed.

I’m using the Japanese dappled willows to create a border along one edge of our property. Now all that I need to do is plant them in the yard to replace some of the willows that didn’t make it through the summer. Lets just hope the deer stay away from these!


Dave has written GrowingTheHomeGarden.com since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 5 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

Reader Comments

  1. You know, I’ve heard this works, but never tried it. Think I will once we get our cold rain in this week. I DO put sedum cuttings everywhere, and boy do those take root!

  2. Hi Dave, I just came across your propagation info and well, it's fantastic! Thank you!

    I have a quick question. I recently bought 3 Dappled Willow bushes (thats all that were available, so I bought them all, but need several more)

    anywho..to make another bush from rooted cuttings, do I plant several branches together or will one branch, branch out into a complete bush?
    Thank you, Bonnie

  3. Hi Bonnie!

    One branch will do fine, it will just take a little time to reach full size (although they will catch up fairly quickly). If you do the cuttings now (in June) a jar of water inside the house will work fine with no rooting hormone needed. When roots from pot the plants until fall then plant them with a good root system. Over winter their roots will continue to grow and next spring they will thrive. Just make sure to keep anything potted well watered over the summer. For my rooted cuttings I place the pots in a larger water holding container and water into the container which encourages them to grow deeper roots. Once the leaves have fallen in the fall trim the shrubs back to encourage branching in the spring.

  4. Dave
    Just came across your site with your great info on rooting dappled willows. My question is this, Can these be rooted now or should I wait until next year? It is October 18 in Zone 5/6. I would love to do anything to get a jump on next growing season. Why am I asking so late in the game?? Well I just acquired 8 nice 5 gallon plants to plant, and I couldn't get anymore!
    any info would be helpful

  5. Anonymous,

    I really enjoy our dappled willows so I can see why you would want more. You have a couple options:
    1)If the plant has gone dormant clip off hardwood branches and just stick them in the ground where you would like to plant them. Scuff up the bark a little where the cutting will go into the ground. You can probably do this anytime this winter as long as the ground is not frozen.
    2)Clip the cuttings and bring them inside to root in water. Once they have begun to grow a few roots transfer them to a pot and keep indoors until spring.
    Sticking them in the ground is the easier way to go but both can be effective to grow more plants. In the spring when the branches are starting their growth you can coppice them (cut the branches to the ground) and root all the cuttings from them making you a whole lot of willows!

  6. Thanks Dave for your reply. I'm a gardening novice just so you know! My plants are all still very lively and green (not dormant?) I took about 15 cuttings and placed in water. So you are saying I should wait until spring to plant? if they root now couldn't I get them into the ground before Nov. 1 or so?? Or is this a death sentence?
    Also my main goal at this point is to get these shrubs up to 6 feet as fast as possible. I need the screening. Am I naive to think if the plants are left unpruned this will happen faster? Or does cutting down to the ground result in a plant that is only as tall as that growing season would allow (4-5ft). Also, if left unpruned, where does the spring growth come from? the existing branches or from the plant base? I'm looking for height here, I will worry about getting them to fill in later. Please advise, let me know if you need more clarification.

  7. Gina,

    If they root now they may be perfectly fine it just depends on the weather. When they root plant them fairly deeply as this will encourage the roots to grow along the stem. The cold will cause their growth to slow and when soil temperatures get cold enough the roots will slow down too but they do grow longer than the top growth. It's definitely worth trying since you can make cuttings from the willows so easily. You will want to trim them up a little in the spring to encourage some bushiness but you don't have to cut them to the ground. Some people like to keep them small and copicing helps. I think pruning a little but encourages more growth. Every cut you make should result in two more branches growing. More branches and leaves means more photosynthesis and should mean faster growth. I've noticed on mine that the more I prune the faster they grow.

    I always happy to help so feel free to ask away if you have anymore questions or if I haven't answered something you want to know!


  8. thanks Dave
    I'm hoping for some roots soon!
    I don't know if you answered my question about height. If you cut them back to close to the ground they can only grow 4 feet in the season? If I leave them alone, they will grow several feet on top of the height they are now?? or does most of the new height growth come from the plant base?

    You see his spring I will be at a cross road to get the most height by summer. Does this make sense? Thanks for humoring me!

  9. Gina,

    If it's height you are wanting don't worry about pruning them to the base. Just prune off a little to make a few more plants in the spring and that should be enough to boots some growth. Their growth can vary quite a bit. The first 2 years they are relatively slower then take off in the third. My in-laws have one that grew to about 8 feet in the third year and continues to grow. It may be 10-12 feet now and has been pruned regularly. How large were the plants you purchased?

  10. Dear Dave My Willow Consultant!
    1) To answer your previous post. The plants I purchased are about 4 feet in total height with the bulk being about 2-3 feet.
    2) I'm happy to report I finally have roots on my cuttings – yeah! But now I'm concerned about planting now Nov. 10 in Indy. All the cuttings sprouted new growth. Will this growth die outside now? or is it really best to pot these over the winter? (not sure I have enough pots! Again as a novice, if I potted these could I just keep them in the garage (no less than 48 degrees and minimal light) or should I keep them in the house?
    3) And lastly when I do plant these, would you advise against planting several cuttings together, or would it be alright.

  11. Hi Gina!

    I'm glad they worked for you! I'll answer the last question first, don't plant two per hole. If they both take root they will compete for nutrients and water which will result in less vigor on both plants. I think I would go ahead and plant them outside and bury them as deeply as possible. If 1-2 inches of the tip of the stem is showing that's probably about right. It will grow more roots along the stem. The tip growth may completely die back but other sprouts will come up in the spring. This winter take cuttings from dormant plants and simply stick them in the ground where you want them as a backup. 3 out of four should take, maybe more!

  12. Hi all! You have some wonderful info for all of us novice garden types. I was wondering if you know if transplanting a willow is a good idea. I live in Wasilla, AK and I have an abundance of willows on one side of the property; however, the other side is wide open to neighbors. I was thinking of moving some of them to use as a privacy screen. Any thoughts?

  13. Hi Kimbery,

    Transplanting a willow shouldn't hurt the willow but may not be necessary. If you take cuttings and stick them where you want the willow to grow you should have a nice privacy screen in a couple years. Unless you want to move them from their current location I would just go the cutting route!

  14. Would you advise planting them in large pots, and if so, would they winter over if left outside in zone 5? Thanks for your help. Sharon

  15. Sharon,

    I think you could successfully raise them in large pots for several years. Just be aware that they may become pot bound in 4-5 years and need removed. I would take a few cuttings from them about 1 year before needing to remove them then re-pot the pots with the 1 year old cuttings. You could then transplant the willow into a location in the landscape or dispose of it. Also keeping it well pruned may limit the growth of the root system a little longer.

  16. I have several Dappled Willows that just won't grow very well, and had purchased some rootings that died. I then learned about the evil Black Walnut tree and the juglone they produce that is toxic to a lot of vegetable plants, fruits tress, and some shrubs. I was thinking this black walnut tree is preventing my Dappled Willows from growing properly. Do you know if Dappled Willows are effected by juglone?

  17. Can anyone tell me if I can save willow cuttings without soaking or rooting them until the spring? I though I saw someone housing them in bundles to preserve their freshness.
    I'd appreciate any help

  18. Well, I guess my comment disappeared when I logged in. Anyway, can I use a 6 foot branch as a cutting? Will it root? My Dwillow has never been pruuned, and she's BIG one 🙂

    1. You could possibly get a 6 foot branch to root. I would place it in soil where you want it to grow and keep it moist. They grow very fast so if start a smaller piece (which may help it root better) then allow it to grow may be a good strategy.

  19. Thanks Dave. I plan to take smaller cuttings as well, but the place we're moving to has NO trees or bushes and I was looking for a quick fix!

  20. I am VERY nieve when it comes to gardening, but I'm learning. Bought a sweet little dappled Willow to plant as a tribute to my daughter who passed away in May. Almost 5 months later, it's doing very well. I took a cutting and placed it in water and within a week or better it sprouted roots. It's almost the end of September, we live in Northern NY but I want to get it in the ground ASAP, then I would like to start a few more. When is the ABSOLUTE latest ii can transplant these beauties? I'd like them all around the yard if possible. I just love them.

    1. I would go ahead and transplant it as soon as possible so it can achieve dormancy. Or you can overwinter it indoors and plant it outside in spring. These willows are easy to root and you can take a hardwood cutting and put it in the soil this winter and it should root and grow in the spring.

  21. Thank you ever so much for your swift reply. I appreciate it. I'm so "green" when it comes to this sort of thing but I'm trying! Lol……we just put that baby in the ground and cut some more from our existing Dappled. Fingers crossed that it takes off. Thanks again.

Comments are closed.