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variegated willow grafted to a standard

pruning

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#1 Laura

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Posted 11 October 2013 - 07:33 PM

I have read that the variegated willow grown as a shrub can be pruned to the ground every couple years & it comes back strong but what can I do with mine that is grafted to a standard?  I've had it 3 years and have tried to keep it shaped by trimming the tips back but it is looking pretty sad. It has lots of dried up apparently dead leaves especially in the center. Should I cut it back hard when it goes dorment this fall/winter?

Can anyone help? I need advice.

Thanks,

Laura



#2 Dsmith74

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Posted 12 October 2013 - 09:45 AM

The difference with your standard is you can't cut back to the ground (called coppicing) and keep the shape, or even the same plant if it is grafted. So the furthest back you can go is to stubs coming from the knob which all the branches originate, called the knuckle. This type of pruning is called pollarding, and has been done on willows for centuries, with the harvested twigs used for things like fuel (firewood). Pollarding is basically coppicing high enough that your livestock can't eat your new shoots in the spring, leaving you with plenty of meat and no way to cook it. 

 

Not sure which willow you have, but if they're anything like other common willows I suspect you could cut it back like that fairly often - perhaps even every year if you want. If I did it often I would trim it back to the knuckle when dormant (no leaves) - that way you know the tree has stored the maximum amount of energy it can to fuel regrow the next year.  Make sure, if you do so, that you leave a little stub - don't try and go flush with the trunk. Unlike regular pruning, where you don't want a branch in that spot, with pollarding/coppicing you DO want another branch to grow there, so you need to leave enough stub to save a bud from which that new growth can originate. 

 

This is a good project for that really nice, warm, sunny day that comes in early March where you want to get out and do something but don't want to dig in or crawl around on the wet soil. That also allows you to enjoy the colorful bark all winter if you variety has that trait. In fact, that bark (and colorful variegated leaves) are often a trait born only (or at least more dramatically) by young wood, so these days coppicing and pollarding are more often done to encourage those aesthetic traits, rather than for the harvested branches. Well, unless you're on Janet's zoo crew - then it is for both.  



#3 Laura

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Posted 12 October 2013 - 01:53 PM

Thank you sooo much. I was just reading about pollarding in a pruning book; hadn't heard of it before. I've been searching the net for some advice but not able to find anything I thought was right.  Thanks again, I will be out there in late winter :)

Laura



#4 Laura

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Posted 12 October 2013 - 01:54 PM

PS. I should have mentioned that the willow is a Salix integra 'Hakura Nishki'



#5 Margaret Thele

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 05:13 AM

Shouldn't make a difference on variety - my question is what kind of water has the plant received - dry, crumbling leaves makes me think of a root problem...


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#6 Janet Macunovich

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 09:33 PM

Somewhere on GardenAtoZ.com are wonderful photos from a reader, of this shrub cut back to nothing and grown back later that summer... although I'm beginning to think it's in one of our newsletters not yet posted. We certainly cut lots of these back so we know it's just normal for the plant to grow several feet a year, but we've never managed to make a perfect light, perfect timing before after sequence like the one we know is somewhere in our files.

 

Until then, here's the plant not trimmed, and also kept small on a standard -- a little globe-topped tree. We kept these two as you see them here for about 5 years until we tired of the look. One hard cut a year, in early spring when we'd cut all the branches back to the main trunk and then two or three times during the summer we'd pinch all the tips and clip the "wild hairs" back.

BellvlDapldWilw.jpg

HolmDapldWilws.jpg



#7 Laura

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 10:49 AM

Thanks so much, that is exactly my tree. I let it go about 3-4 yrs & cut it back severely this March. It is bursting with buds all over. My trunk is at least twice the size of those little trees.  I can see myself getting tired of triming it some day. But aga, thanks so much to you and your forum. I'm going to water it more this year to prevent the crispy leaves :)

Laura







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