The harlequin willow is a willow and, like all willows, is characterized by powerful growth and growth speed. In the wild, that doesn’t matter because the pioneer plants colonize areas free of vegetation where they can spread without competition. You can certainly imagine the size of this pasture in the Hessian Kirchhain (Marburg-Biedenkopf district) with a trunk diameter of almost 8 meters in the upper area.

Cutting harlequin willow: how often

The name “willow” comes from the old high German “wîda” = the flexible one, and the flexible branches of the willow were harvested over millennia in order to weave them into all the baskets that were used in the household. Today some people still weave baskets (and some people who cannot see the seas drown in plastic again), but they do not plant harlequin willow in their gardens.

This harlequin willow is a special variety of the East Asian shrub willow species Salix integra, which has long been planted as an ornamental wood in Japan because of its pink and white variegated leaves. In 1979 this Salix integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ was also introduced to us, where it has since supplemented other garden-friendly dwarf versions of large willow trees such as the corkscrew willow Salix matsudana ‘Tortuosa’ or the hanging kitten willow Salix caprea pendula ‘Kilmarnock’. However, it still grows fairly quickly even in the dwarf form, which is why the harlequin willow should definitely be pruned regularly.

If harlequin willows are grown as a shrub according to their natural growth habit, they become around 2.5 m high and do not necessarily need annual pruning. But the young plants have to be put on the right path by pruning; the more regular the pruning is at the beginning, the more pleasing the growth shape of the shrub develops in old age. Older, freely growing harlequin willows only need to be pruned if they are too big, too wide or threaten to overgrown: If the willow grows too high, too dense inside or too chaotically, it should be thinned out in spring.

With head-grafted high trunks, the crown in particular grows; it always has to be trimmed if too many branches leave the curve. Depending on the vigor of the harlequin pasture in question, this may also require intervention with the scissors twice a year.

When to cut the harlequin willow

Time of cutting shrub harlequin willow

At the beginning of the season, harlequin willows develop the flowers called “catkins” (between March and April / May, depending on the climate). Only after flowering do the white-green, pink variegated leaves appear, for which this special cultivar of this willow species became famous. Although the yellow kittens are rather inconspicuous, you should not disturb with a cut in the time until the kittens are fully developed. Because willows are particularly valuable ecologically because of their properties as “early spring bloomers”; they provide nectar for insects when the garden doesn’t have much else to offer. The perfect time to cut the harlequin willow has come when the kittens have been “harvested” and the leaves are about to shoot.

Harlequin willows that grow as a shrub should be carefully looked at with scissors in hand in spring, in order to divert undesirable developments into the desired growth directions in good time. A slight thinning may always be carried out, in the process all damaged, dried up, cross-growing branches are removed. On this occasion, you can always rejuvenate the willow a little by removing older woody shoots.

If the harlequin willow grows splendidly in an optimal environment and gets out of joint (or simply becomes too big), it can withstand any major pruning. A “willow bush” that is completely overgrown can easily be cut down to a few centimeters above the ground; especially in spring when the sap is already flowing. As soon as the wounds are closed, the pruning-compatible willow plant sprouts again even after such a radical cure.

Another, light pruning in the last weeks of summer is recommended: If you now remove the oldest branches all around, you rejuvenate your harlequin willow, and the most beautiful flowers and brightly colored leaves will always be formed on the young branches.

The best time to cut the tall trunks

The tall trunk with the round crown absolutely needs its first topiary pruning in spring, because pruning promotes the colorful new growth. The crown is freed from all branches that are on the wrong path; As with the bush, further diseased, weak, dead rods are removed and branches growing too close to one another are thinned out.

The tall trunks in particular tend to “grow away” from their spherical shape in early summer; on the other hand, trimming helps in the summer months as soon as the round ball gets out of shape.

However, the pruning should be stopped in good time: As soon as the days are longer and the weather becomes autumnal, the harlequin willow can let its new shoots mature in peace, only if they are sufficiently lignified they will survive the winter well. If you prune too late in autumn and thereby provoke new shoots again, it may happen that the new shoots cannot establish themselves properly – these are typical “frost victims”. Pruning from September is also not recommended because the flow of sap is already slower and the willow is more difficult to close the cut wounds.

Illness-related incision care

Regardless of 1. and 2., the harlequin pasture can and should always be pruned if an illness makes it necessary. If z. If, for example, the leaves turn brown in the middle of the season and become dry, this could be due to the soil being too dry or too much sunlight (= sunburn). This often happens with freshly planted harlequin willows, which should then be pruned as soon as possible. If summer is not too far advanced, the willow can produce new, healthy shoots in the same season as it goes into winter.

The same applies to the harlequin willow, which, for reasons that are not known, gets thinner and thinner tips during the growing season and maybe also lets some twigs / leaves die off. It often helps to cut the branches back in half, the new shoot usually appears completely normal. If it is a question of a larger pruning, for which it is actually too late in the year, you can also let the willow overwinter in the somewhat “plucked” form and cut away the weakening branches in the spring.

It looks different if the incorrect growth has reasons, e.g. B. was caused by willow borer larvae. The small white or dark red animals (well, not so small, they can be up to 10 cm long) colonize old or weakened willows and feed on the wood of the tree. This for two years, then they pupate, their host tree does not always survive. If you observe such animals or mushrooms (shoot tips wither and then turn black) on the harlequin willow, the wood should be cut back into the healthy wood immediately. The cut shoots in this case are best burned.

In the case of tall trees, you are not allowed to cut into the grafting point, at least not if the harlequin willow is to sprout again as a harlequin willow. If larvae or fungus have already conquered the trunk of an old or weak harlequin willow, you only have the choice, in case of doubt, to cut below the grafting (thickening in the upper part of the trunk). The willow will then sprout again, but no longer as a harlequin willow, but from the grafting base. The harlequin willow is usually refined to Salix viminalis or Salix smithiana, so you can then make friends with a wicker or bucket willow (natural cross between willow and wicker). Both beautiful trees, which are 7 to 8 meters high, and both wicker (the Küblerweide Salix smithiana is the classic willow used by basket makers),

Wie schneidet man die Harlekin- /Zierweide

Bei den als Strauch wachsenden Harlekinweiden werden schwache, abgestorbene und verquer wachsende Zweige gleich unten an der Basis entfernt. Die gesunden Äste werden normalerweise auf etwa ein Drittel ihrer Länge zurückgeschnitten. Wenn der Strauch selten geschnitten wird, kann das zu wenig sein, dann können Sie so viel wegnehmen, dass noch gerade drei bis vier Augenpaare pro Trieb erhalten bleiben.

Etwa drei Augen sind das Mindeste, was die Harlekinweide für einen kräftigen Austrieb braucht, dieses Maß gilt also auch für den Formschnitt. Oder gilt hier noch eher, je kräftiger der Austrieb, desto einheitlicher wirkt die Rundkrone des Hochstämmchens. Dieses Ergebnis erreichen Sie ohne „Augen zählen“, wenn Sie kurz vor dem Laubaustrieb alle Triebe auf Längen zwischen 5 und 15 cm zurückschneiden und dabei eine schöne kleine (angedeutete) Kugel ausbilden.

Beim Nachschnitt im Sommer kommt es darauf an, dass Sie möglichst akkurat der Kugelform folgen. Je früher der Nachschnitt angesetzt wird, desto mehr können Sie Ihre hellseherischen Fähigkeiten beweisen, indem Sie genau die ein, zwei Zentimeter mehr abschneiden, die dafür sorgen, dass die Harlekinweide bis Ende der Saison eine gleichmäßige Kugelkrone trägt. Je nach Wuchsfreude der Harlekinweide kann es Ihnen aber auch passieren, dass die Pflanze einen zeitig angesetzten Nachschnitt als ultimative Austriebsaufforderung versteht – mit der Konsequenz, dass Sie über die Saison mehr als einmal zur Schere greifen müssen, um die Kugelkrone immer gleichmäßig rund aussehen zu lassen.

„Perfektionisten“ mit Sinn für effektiven Baumschnitt tun das ohnehin: Sie weigern sich, die Krone jedes Frühjahr auf Fussballgrösse zurückschneiden, weil ihnen ein solcherart verunstalteter Baum nicht sehr gut gefällt (die in dieser Art und Weise frisch beschnitte Harlekinweide sieht tatsächlich eine Zeit lang aus wie ein einsamer Stamm in der Landschaft, dem die Krone verloren ging). Da aber Rückschnitt im Frühjahr notwendig ist, um die Harlekinweide zur Produktion ihres schönen bunten Austriebs anzuregen, wird beschnitten, jedoch anders als üblich, sehr zurückhaltend eben:

Im Frühjahr (nach Blüte, vor Austrieb) werden alle Äste rundum ein Stückchen gekürzt, dabei bleibt die kugelige Form erhalten. Im Verlauf des Sommers wird die Harlekinweide immer wieder mal entspitzt, um das buschige Wachstum im äußeren Bereich der Krone zu fördern – so entsteht eine wirklich gleichmässig runde Kugel. Da hier von 60 – 80 cm langen Ästen ausgegangen wird, wächst diese Kugel ziemlich schnell zu einer solch stattlichen Grösse heran, dass der erste Nachschnitt fällig ist, und im Laufe des Sommers muss die Harlekinweide mindestens noch einmal rundum ein wenig gebremst werden, damit der Kronendurchmesser nicht zu gross im Verhältnis zum Stamm wird. Menschen mit kräftigen Armen nehmen für diesen Rundum-Schnitt die Heckenschere und sind nach ein paar Minuten fertig.

First of all, that seems to mean more trimming, because you pick up the scissors several times over the season. But that’s not really true: This variety is drawn to branch extremely eagerly, so the football-sized ball forms a lot of small branches that soon lie inside the crown. These branches have to be thinned out during the season when they cut off the light and air inside the harlequin willow, and require a lot of attention and pruning at the latest the next time they are cut. Without radical pruning, the tangle on the inside does not arise, but the basic shape once created with strong guide branches simply continues to grow and only branches out on the outside – i.e. exactly where you want it to be.

Harlequin willows in the bucket

The harlequin willow in the bucket is pruned in the same way as the willow in the garden soil. Just not so much and not so often, because the limited root space in the bucket decisively slows down the vigor of the harlequin willow.

In most cases, it is enough to pull back the crown of the tall trunk a little before budding in order to have a harlequin willow with a fairly uniform spherical shape in the bucket by the end of the season. The extent to which orderly people cut each twig “in line” that protrudes a few centimeters over the curve is up to them.

However, it is not uncommon for something else to happen: The harlequin willow, an artificial pairing made from a robust willow base on which a Salix integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ is placed, is given a disproportionately huge crown. This can be due to the fact that a base that is too vigorous was chosen, but unfortunately it can also happen if you simply take good care of your harlequin pasture. In both cases it doesn’t do you much good anyway, the harlequin pasture is there and growing and you have to put a stop to it, in this case with a cut up to 4 times per season.

If you are one of the advanced gardeners, you can keep the harlequin pasture a little shorter in the future. As a beginner, you shouldn’t try this: if you don’t have the necessary knowledge, you could desperately provoke strong growth, after which the willow dies exhausted. Another way of slowing down growth would be to prune the roots; but as long as it can be avoided by pruning, you should rather slow down the willing willow plants without cutting into the nutrient supply or roots, because everything else could have unpredictable consequences.

Conclusion
Salix integra ‘Hakuro Nikishi’ is a real pasture and accordingly willing to grow; also as a high trunk, sometimes even as a high trunk in a bucket. However, you don’t need to worry too much: as long as you cut at all from time to time, you will get along just fine with the willow wood that is maximally compatible with cutting. Whatever bothers you can simply be cut away without preventing a healthy pasture from sprouting again.

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