The trees with the low-hanging branches often line the banks of rivers and lakes. But the Salix alba “Tristis” also comes into its own in home gardens, provided it is given enough space to grow. Weeping willows are very robust and do not make any special demands on the hobby gardener. Their pruning tolerance makes the native deciduous trees interesting even for beginners.

Location and substrate

Weeping willows are not the kind of plants that can be moved around at will. The trees often reach a height of well over 20 meters and the drooping branches take up a lot of space. For this reason, choose a sunny location where the Salix alba “Tristis” can develop undisturbed. A moderately dry to very moist, deep substrate fully meets the needs of weeping willows.

When choosing a location, also note that older hanging willows are often at risk of breakage due to the heavy weight of the crown and a possible fungal attack. The only way to save the entire tree at this stage is to support the trunk with special equipment. If this laborious and expensive measure does not help, the weeping willow has to be felled completely.

Fertilizing and watering

Conventional universal or long-term fertilizers are unsuitable for Salix alba. Mix large amounts of compost directly under the mulched soil in spring and autumn to provide the tree with the necessary nutrients. In addition, you should not remove the fallen leaves in autumn, but spread them generously around the weeping willow. Microorganisms decompose the leaves and thus also ensure that the soil is enriched with minerals.

Hanging willows are extremely tolerant of waterlogging. A permeable soil is therefore not necessarily required for planting. When it comes to watering, Salix can also go over the top. The root ball of the weeping willow must never dry out completely in summer, a lack of water quickly becomes noticeable in the form of yellow and prematurely falling leaves. As a rule, the strong roots of the tree are able to supply themselves with liquid directly from the soil. Only young trees should be provided with a sufficient amount of water several times a week in summer.


Salix alba “Tristis” is an extremely robust and easy to care for deciduous tree, which is only suitable for large gardens and parks due to its high growth and the spreading crown. The direct proximity to flowing or standing water is not necessary, even if weeping willows only develop their full charm on the banks of the river. Before planting, make sure there is sufficient distance from houses and garden fences. The tree’s strong roots can damage underground pipes and gas lines, and these should not be in close proximity to the hanging willow either.

As is usual with many deciduous trees, they are planted before the leaves shoot. You can move the Salix to its final location from October to March. The planting hole must be three times as wide and deep as the root ball of the weeping willow, this makes it easier for the plant to take root. Enrich the soil with compost and water it sufficiently immediately after the pasture is set. In the first winter, you should protect the roots of the Salix with a thick layer of humus or horn shavings. As soon as the tree is properly rooted, this measure is not necessary and the native deciduous tree defies even long periods of frost. Attach the still thin plants to sturdy stakes to protect them from windthrow.

Tip : In the first few weeks after planting, water the Salix moderately, even on frost-free days.

Plant spacing
The low-hanging branches with their dense foliage take up a lot of space. Plants in the direct vicinity of the willow have a hard time thriving optimally in their shade. A minimum distance of 7 to 10 meters should be allowed for other trees and bushes. Avoid direct planting with small plants in the shade of the willow. Because their spreading branches often reach down to the ground and hide the view of the ornamental plants below.


Weeping willows are not only extremely robust, but also just as easy to propagate. The native deciduous trees usually take root without any problems. Even the pussy willow in the water glass or the decorative arbor demarcation form roots at the slightest contact with water or damp soil. Shoots that root in the leafy state often have a high failure rate and wither after just a few weeks. Therefore, play it safe and propagate directly from cuttings in the months of October to February.

  • The cuttings should be about 35 inches long.
  • Completely remove any leaves.
  • Put directly in the ground in the ground.
  • Water moderately on frost-free days.

If you want to grow weeping willows as bonsai, you can also put the cuttings in a prepared planter with a nutrient-poor substrate. Leave the bucket outdoors for the winter so that the roots of the cuttings can develop optimally by spring.

Note: The imposing trees shed a lot of leaves in late autumn and can quickly become an unwanted annoyance for the neighborhood and road traffic.

Hanging willows tend to develop more root runners. These are also suitable for the successful propagation of the Salix, but you should be patient. Before the plant reaches its final growth shape, you have to make a radical pruning on the young tree every year.

To cut

The Salix alba “Tristis” is a deciduous tree that is very pruning and even rough beginners’ mistakes are easily forgiven. If you give the strong-growing tree a radical cut, it will sprout again just as vigorously in the following year. The right time to cut is in spring, before the plant begins to shoot. However, if you want to enjoy the delightful splendor of the pussy willow, you should postpone the pruning until immediately after flowering.

Trimming hanging willows involves a lot of work and planning for larger specimens. The tree’s low hanging branches can weigh several tons. Therefore, work your way from the outside in and first cut away the lowest shoots of the Salix with sharp tools. Only when these branches no longer block your view of the actual treetop can you get to grips with the main supporting branches. Ladder and protection are mandatory when pruning trees, but additional help from other people would also be advisable. Speed ​​up the closure of the wound edges by smoothing out existing stumps with a chainsaw. It is not necessary to apply special cotton ointments.

Due to their strong growth, it is difficult and labor-intensive to regulate the height of weeping willows. If a radical pruning is too costly for you, you can fall back on a topiary to bring the drooping shoots in the desired direction of growth. To do this, cut the branches back 2/3 of their length and make sure that the cut is made directly below a pair of buds or leaves that point in the desired direction of growth. With this action also remove transversely growing shoots, which could hinder other branches from growing.

Tip: Cut away dead and diseased branches all year round to stimulate the growth of the weeping willow.

Hanging willow trees in pots

There is not always enough space to plant hanging willows in your own garden. Weeping willows are also conditionally suitable for keeping in pots and can be kept on your own terrace or a large balcony. The deciduous tree is one of the shallow roots, which is why the sturdy planter should be twice as wide as it is deep. Treat the Salix to a sunny spot and prune the plant sharply every year in order to keep the stature height as low as possible. Drainage at the bottom of the bucket is not necessary, but weeping willows can withstand long-term floods unscathed.

Even on frost-free days, water the plant moderately so that the root ball can never dry out completely. Unlike outdoors, the Salix alba “Tristis” needs an additional supply of nutrients when planted in pots. Fertilize the tree regularly, at least once a month, with conventional universal fertilizer. Protect the container plant in winter with a thick layer of horn shavings or a special fleece. Hanging willows are hardy and usually withstand temperatures as low as -35 ° C. In planters, however, the soil freezes more quickly and frost breaks can damage the pasture.

Pests and diseases

The Salix alba “Tristis” is extremely robust and vigorous, but some fungal pathogens feel very comfortable on the local deciduous tree. Chemical agents do not always have to be used, but containment of the disease using the simplest of methods is recommended.

Young plants often have a white, lead-like shine on the leaves and shoots die. These characteristics are caused by the fungus “Stereum purpureum”, which penetrates directly into the interior of the willow through cuts. However, treating this pathogen is difficult. Consistently cut away all the infected regions of the tree and additionally promote the resistance of the Salix with potash and phosphorus.

Shoot tip drought
Dark brown growths on the shoots are a typical feature on the mushroom “Marssonina saliciola”. The fungus overwinters within diseased parts of the plant and on the withered leaves on the ground. From there it infects the willow again in the warm spring and causes leaf damage and injuries similar to hailstones. Control measures are required immediately to contain the spread of the fungal pathogen:

  • Generously remove and destroy affected parts of the plant.
  • Collect fallen leaves immediately.
  • Use fungicides if necessary.

scab A thickening of the twigs and discoloration of the shoots and leaves of the willow can often be observed after wet and cold days. These symptoms are caused by the fungal pathogen “Pollaccia saliciperda”. Within a few days, the scab-like color spreads further and leads to the death of the infected leaves and shoot tips. Supply the infected willow with phosphorus and potash and remove any branches and leaves that are already infected.

Weeping willows are fascinating and extremely robust trees. Nevertheless, you should have the necessary space for the lush plant if you want to cultivate it in your own garden.

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