With its pink and white foliage and spherical shape, the harlequin willow immediately catches the eye. However, this shape does not come by itself, but can only be maintained through regular pruning measures.
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Choose a suitable time
Ideally, this ornamental willow should be cut back in early spring after it has hibernated, around mid-February to early March, regardless of whether it is a standard tree or a shrub. The leaves have not yet started to sprout, which makes targeted pruning much easier.
In contrast to the high stem, the shrub form should not be cut in the first three years. In the days before pruning, it is advisable to follow the weather forecast, as late or night frosts could damage the fresh shoots. At least two cuts are usually required, the first in spring and another at the end of June around St. John’s Day.
make a maintenance cut
The spring pruning is usually a little heavier, which results in vigorous new growth of young shoots. High trunks are particularly suitable for a beautiful spherical shape. In the case of the shrub form, a maximum of a hemispherical form is possible. However, the procedure is very similar.
- Cut out old, diseased and dried out shoots that are crossing and growing transversely
- always directly to the base
- shorten any remaining ones by about a third
- leave at least four inches
- or four eyes per shoot
- cut just above an eye
- if the crown is very dense, remove individual branches or twigs
- never cut in graft site
- Always cut at an angle, otherwise there is a risk of rot
- Shorten the shrub variant to a few centimeters above the ground
Harlequin willows in tubs usually grow more slowly, which benefits the preservation of a spherical crown. Because of this, they do not necessarily have to be blended every year. The cut itself corresponds to that of specimens planted in the garden, whereby special attention should be paid to the relationship between crown and trunk and the foliage growth should not be too vigorous.
Touch up in summer
After heavy pruning in spring, growth begins to increase and the wood quickly gets out of shape. If the harlequin willow should retain its spherical shape, you cannot avoid cutting it again in summer. During this time, the willow takes a break from growth, making it the perfect time for pruning measures.
- Shorten crown branches by a third or at most by half
- or only shorten shoots protruding from the crown
- Remove shoots growing from the root disc
- as well as all shoots below the grafting point
- do not cut when it is dry or in intense sunlight
Even if the cuts should be made at an angle, you can also protect larger cuts from rotting by using a wound sealant. Like all willows, the harlequin willow also has the property of expelling quickly and strongly at the intersections that have arisen. This is not the case in the sealed areas, here it does not sprout again. By sealing the interfaces, for example with clay or wax, the shape of the crown can be directly influenced.
Use clean tools
The wood of the harlequin willow is soft and therefore easy to cut. In principle, it is advisable to only use mechanical tools, as electric hedge trimmers do more harm than good to the plant.
- Use pruning shears and secateurs
- Secateurs in the form of bypass or anvil shears
- Bypass scissors have two sharp blades
- cuts branches with a diameter of up to 25 mm
- Anvil shears with only one sharp blade
- for hard, dry wood with a similar diameter
- soft wood would be crushed by anvil shears
- use pruning shears for thicker branches and twigs
frequently asked Questions
The biggest mistake is not to cut the pasture at all or to completely do without shape and maintenance pruning. The result would be a sprawling and misshapen crown growth. It would lead to premature aging. The beautiful coloring of the leaves would be significantly reduced and at some point the pasture would only be a dense undergrowth consisting of old and young shoots. Injuries to the grafting site can also cause significant damage to the plant.
If the willow does not sprout again as usual after the cut, it may have been cut at the wrong time, i.e. in autumn. If you cut back at this time of year, the cuts heal much more poorly, which in turn can lead to pathogens being able to enter. In addition, late pruning makes the plants more susceptible to frost damage. So better not cut in the fall.
The prescribed grace period is about the breeding season of numerous bird species, which must be observed at all costs. This means that no major prunings may be made from March 1st to September 30th. Only minor cuts are allowed, provided that there are no nests in the wood in question.
In the event of illness, the harlequin willow may also have to be pruned more. In this case, there is no specific point in time; now the task is to save the plant. As a result, action should be taken quickly. All affected shoots, including young ones, are removed and disposed of with household waste. Be sure to disinfect the tool before and after cutting.