Whoever hears the term willow immediately thinks of the large weeping willows in the park or the bushes with the decorative willow catkins. Willow species can be very diverse and there are also willow shrubs that can be cultivated in tubs.

Native willow species

There are different types of willow (Salix) not only in other countries or on other continents, but also here a few different varieties are native. These grow in the wild, but can also be cultivated in your own garden. Native species include the following:

Alpine willow (Salix alpina)

  • primarily native to the Austrian Alps
  • also South Tyrol and Dolomites
  • prostrate shrub
  • only up to 10 centimeters high
  • Shoots slightly hairy
  • Foliage fresh green
  • small catkins together with leaf shoots
  • good for rock gardens
  • sunny location
  • hardy

Harlekinweide (Salix integra)

  • grows as a shrub or small tree
  • can be cultivated in a bucket
  • in the bed up to three meters high
  • bushy, spherical growth
  • yellow flowers in March and April
  • pussy willow
  • hardy
  • sunny to partially shaded location
  • green to multicolored leaves
  • also available as different hybrids like ‘Hakuro Nishiki’
Note: Actually, the harlequin willow is not a native species, but a Japanese species. However, since the tree was introduced to Germany in the 1970s, it is already considered native to the local gardens.

Korbweide (Salix viminalis)

  • also known as hemp willow
  • Can be cultivated as a shrub and pollard willow
  • preferably planted in natural gardens
  • can grow up to 10 meters high and 8 meters wide without pruning
  • Flowering from March to April
  • pussy willow
  • hardy
  • sunny location
  • well tolerated by cuts
Idea: You can weave baskets and fences and even privacy screens from the rods of the wicker. Because the cut shoots are very flexible if they have not been cut too old and can easily be bent into the desired shapes.

Swiss willow (Salix helvetica)

  • small shrub
  • semicircular growth
  • height up to one meter
  • Width also up to one meter
  • Flowering time from March to April
  • silver-white kittens
  • turn golden yellow
  • sunny to partially shaded location
  • hardy
  • well suited as a container plant

Salweide (Salix caprea)

  • as a shrub or small tree
  • also called kitten willow
  • yellow pussy willows
  • Flowering from March to April
  • known willow species at Easter
  • up to 8 meters high
  • upright and spherical
  • hardy
  • is well suited for privacy hedges
  • pot cultivation is also possible

The white willow (Salix alba) and the weeping willow are also native species. However, these are not small shrubs that can be planted in a bucket or garden bed. These two types of willow need a lot of space because they grow very large.

hybrids and ornamental plants

Willow shrubs are also preferably grown as hybrids. Here, the breeds should be optimized so that they can adapt well to the environment, the respective climate and in size. Thus, the willow species and ornamental plants that have been bred as hybrids include the following willow:

Corkscrew willow (Salix matsudana ‘Tortuosa’)

  • large shrub or small tree
  • 8 to 12 meters high
  • can get very wide
  • takes up a lot of space in the garden
  • very bizarre growth
  • Branches and new shoots like corkscrews
  • long narrow leaves
  • Flowering time March to April
  • can also be cultivated in a bucket
  • sunny location
Note: The corkscrew willow is a hybrid of the Chinese willow.

Small willow species

When you think of willows, you often think of the large, sprawling trees that stand in large parks. The best example here is the weeping willow with its long branches hanging down to the ground. Although these are beautiful to look at, they do not fit into any garden. But here, too, there are beautiful and decorative small willow shrubs for tubs and garden beds:

Flaumweide (Salix laggeri)

  • shrub
  • one to two meters high
  • twigs curly hairy
  • Blossom are pussy willows
  • Flowering time in March and April
  • hardy
  • widespread in Switzerland
  • sunny to partially shaded location
  • suitable for tub cultivation

Hechtblaue Weide (Salix caesia)

  • also blue-green willow
  • originally distributed in Asia
  • Zwergstrauch
  • densely branched
  • Height up to 70 centimeters
  • reddish-brown or reddish-black bark
  • silky hairy
  • Flowering time in May
  • lower side of leaf blue-green
  • hardy

Blueberry willow (Salix myrtilloides)

  • also called bog willow
  • Distribution Asia and Europe
  • sparse verästelt
  • Zwergstrauch
  • 15 to 50 centimeters high
  • yellow or red-brown erect twigs
  • flowering in May
  • prefers swamp and moor areas
  • hardy
  • cool, sunny location

Krautweide (Salix herbacea)

  • trellis shrub
  • can also be called a creeping dwarf shrub
  • Growth heights only between 2 and 10 centimeters
  • woody stem creeping underground
  • only branches and leaves grow from earth
  • Flowering between May and September
  • young fruits bright red
  • hardy
  • cold location preferred
Note: This smallest of all trees is a relic from the Ice Age. It can therefore cope better with cold than with warm temperatures. In the wild, the site is typically snow-covered for between seven and eight months.

Kurzzahn-Weide (Salix breviserrata)

  • Zwergstrauch
  • prostrate
  • up to 10 centimeters in height
  • red pussy willows
  • Flowering time June to July
  • mainly found in the Mediterranean region
  • Also common in domestic gardens
  • suitable for pot planting
  • hardy
  • sunny location

Reticulated Willow (Salix reticulata)

  • also reticulated willow
  • Zwergstrauch
  • up to 30 centimeters high
  • close fitting to the ground
  • Occurrence in Northern Europe, North America and arctic Asia
  • prefers the high altitudes of the Alps
  • cool, sunny location
  • absolutely frost-hard
  • elongated red flowers
  • grow upright

Ohr-Weide (Salix aurita)

  • also sage willow or ear willow
  • Name of two supplementary leaves on the stem of each leaf
  • sparsely branched growth
  • Shrub grows very slowly
  • Growth height between two and three meters
  • yellow catkins flowers
  • Flowering time from March to April
  • sunny to partially shaded location
  • hardy
  • native plant

Polar-Weide (Salix polaris)

  • small creeping shrub
  • one to nine inches high
  • the picture Rhizome
  • Main branches grow upright
  • bark reddish brown
  • densely packed red flowers on stalks
  • grow upright in height
  • Distribution in the northern hemisphere
  • needs a lot of cold

Seidenweide (Salix glaucosericea)

  • Distribution area in the Alps
  • cool, partially shaded to sunny location
  • grows well on rocky soils
  • Zwergstrauch
  • up to 70 centimeters high
  • grows very sprawling
  • green, inconspicuous flowers
  • Flowering period June and July
  • in warmer regions as early as April

Wool willow (Salix lanata)

  • formerly known as woolly willow
  • commonly cultivated as a hedge plant
  • sparse shrub
  • up to 1.5 meters high
  • Buds and shoots with woolly hairs
  • Buds also thick and hairy golden yellow
  • needs a cool, damp, shady spot
  • hardy
Note: In earlier times of famine, the inner rind was dried and used as a substitute for flour in bread making. However, the taste is very bitter, so such bread is no longer baked today.

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