Whether you’re looking for a quick and easy way to add some greenery to your yard or want to create something more unique, there are plenty of options when it comes to willow. From the classic weeping willow to the fast-growing osier, there are many different varieties to choose from.
Willows are easily recognizable by their long sweeping leaves and slender stems. Their deep brown bark provides a beautiful contrast with the vibrant green of younger trees, and the long tubular flowers that appear in February invite pollinators into your landscape. They’re deciduous, meaning that they shed their leaves in the fall and winter.
The common weeping willow (Salix babylonica) is a classic, and the one that most people associate with this family of plants. Weeping willows are fast-growing trees that can grow up to 10′ per year when planted in the right location. They’re a favorite for landscapes because of their graceful movement in the wind and the beautiful way that they drape over other plantings.
In addition to being a great shade tree, the weeping willow is also a good choice for riparian restoration https://salixnurseries.com/ projects as they can be used as a foundational plant in bioswales and other constructed wetlands. It is also an important food source for wildlife, and a great alternative to more traditional hardwoods like maples.
Osier (or basket) willow (Salix viminalis) is another common choice for riparian restoration projects and can be used to make living willow tunnels and sculptures. It’s a versatile willow, as it can be coppiced or cut back to the ground and will regrow new shoots quickly. It’s also a great choice for early years outdoor play as the thin, flexible stems can be used to build dens and other structures.
‘Bronze Beauty’ is a vigorous female clone of S. myricoides Muhl. ‘Bronze Beauty’ has larger bronze-colored new leaves than the species. It’s a moderately fast-growing willow and can be planted 17-20′ apart. This willow is cold hardy to USDA Zone 3. ‘Filigree’ is a male clone of S. interior Rowlee. ‘Filigree’ has very long, slender leaves. It’s a moderately fast-growing and short-lived willow that can be planted in the garden and is hardy to USDA Zone 3.