Frequently Asked Questions about our Hybrid Willow

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What is a Hybrid Willow? Is it a GMO?

This tree was developed by cross breeding the Salix matsudana with the Salix alba, and the resulting seeds were planted in mass. This particular cutivar was selected from among those seedlings, and has been replicated via cloning after that selection. All of the derivatives are genetically identical and thus result in very similar characteristics. THEY ARE NOT GMO. Anyone who thinks these are GMO doesn't have a clue what GMO plants are. No chromosome splicing here AT ALL!

How far apart sould we plant them?

That depends! If you are trying to develop a wind break, snow catch, dust or noise barrier, then plant one row 5-6' apart, and no closer than 5'. If planted too close, they will rub against each other before they have a chance for their bark can mature. The thin bark will easily rub off and this creates wounds in the tree bark, which can be an issue when the tree matures. If planted at least 5' apart they will not touch one another until they have had time to grow thicker bark, which won't rub off easily. If you are planting and you have lots of space, then plant the same number of trees but make two rows 8-10' apart, and plant the trees 8-10' apart in each row but stagger them between the rows. This gives more space for them to fill out, and yet gives the same density of plants for wind or snow blowing from the side. 

How big are they when they are shipped?

These are alive and growing 1/2" every day, so we target shipping them at 12-24" but sometimes they are slightly longer. They will have leaves already growing. The root ball is about the size of a soda can, with a netting around the root ball. Plant the netting with the tree, and it will disolve away and the roots will burst through it.  We can shp these anywhere in the USA by Postal, UPS or SpeeDeeDelivery. Our only limitation for shipping is when it gets hot, because when the trees arrive at your door they CANNOT sit in the sun on a hot day inside the box, or they will die! If you take them out of the box and put the roots into a pail of water they are just fine like that until you have time to plant them. We ship up until it gets to the hottest part of summer, then we pick up again in early fall. 

What kind of soil do they need?

We jokingly say that if we could dig planting holes in the highway, they could grow roots into the asphalt! Our experience and our customers tell us how well they grow in pure sand, heavy black clay, and everything inbetween. If you have poor soil it is important to make a bigger planting hole 1'x1' and backfill with 50/50 mix of good compost and your virgin soil. This lets them get started, and then they will push roots out from there. If anything grows in the soil where you will plant them, then you can count on these growing there too.

What about water?

Some willows grow only near lakes and rivers and need water, these trees do not require water nearby, and are actually quite drought tollerant once well establlished. To get them established make sure you water well when you plant, this gets all the air pockets out of the soil. If no rainfall is received then plan to provide one gallon per tree per week for the first three months. The KEY is how you water. Slowly! Use a bucket with a nail hole near the bottom and fill the bucket and let the water drip out slowly. If you set up irrigation, DO NOT WATER EVERY DAY. This is worse than not watering at all, because we want to make sure the roots can get air,  and if the soil is wet no air can get to the roots, and your trees will die. They cannot live with standing water around the roots for more than about a week or ten days at most.

How long do these trees live?

You will begin to see some dead branches in the upper crown of the tree when it gets about 15-18 years old. The tree will begin to decline slowly from this point. By the time it is 22-25 years old it will have some larger dead branches, and if it is in a high visibility area you will likely want to remove them and make firewood! If they are in a pasture or edge of a woods, they can be left alone and will simply fall over and rot at about 30-35 years old. We encourage our customers to think long term and plant other longer lived trees inside of these. While the slow growing trees need protection and take 20 years to get to a good size, the willows will protect them. When the willows come down, the other trees can then take over for the next 150 years. 

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Can these trees withstand wind?

You should know that our nursery and the trees in this picture are located in NOBLES county MN. Our county has more wind towers per capita than any other county in the Midwest. Our town hosts the annual National Wind Surfing Championships, every year. WE ARE WINDY! 60 mph wind is not uncommon and daily it seems to blow 25 mph. These trees have no problem. They stand in the middle of a field and hold up well. We get 50' wide and 10' deep snow drifts on the leward side of the row every winter. They are not hurricane proof or tornado proof, and not as strong as an oak tree, but they are very durable, and NOTHING like a weeping willow that drops branches in every slight breeze. Farmers and ranchers love these because they are no maintenance, then in twenty years, whack them down, and replant between the stumps. Push the logs in a pile to make firewood, and burn the branches. 

How tall and wide do they get?

If planted in a row or grouping were the roots will compete with each other they will max out at about 45' tall, and 12-14' wide. If planted in the yard away from other trees, they will get upwards of 65-70' and 30-40' wide in the crown. They like full sun, but will grow with some shade, however they won't get nearly as full and dense without full sun.

Should we stake these trees or fertilize them?

Do NOT stake them! Let them whip around in the wind, because this builds "stem taper" which allows them to resist the wind when they get older. If you stake a tree when it is young becasue it is windy, then the day you pull the stakes, you should sharpen your chain saw blade, because it is going to snap off shortly.  


Fertilize at least yearly. These trees grow fast and use a ton of nitrogen from the soil. Adding one cup of fertilizer per inch of diameter, measured 12" up from the soil line, works well. Spread it evenly in the drip zone, which is the area covered by the canopy of the tree.  Fall is best, but spring is fine too, and twice or even three times a year is even better. You will see the results quickly.

Should we mulch around them?

YES YES YES. One of the best things for any young tree is to have a deep 6-8" layer of mulch around it to hold in moisture and keep weeds from growing. The mulch also moderates the soil temperature around the tree. Ask a local arborist or tree removal company to dump a load of wood chips for you. This isn't fancy stuff that you would buy at the store, but is is perfect for what you need and it will probably be free! It is well worth the work to wheel barrow a couple loads around each tree, because it elimates weeding around the trees and you will see amazing growth results as well.  Add to the mulch if needed for a few years, but then in a few years the tree will shade itself and few weeds will grow in the dark underneath the thick branches.

How much is shipping?

The cost of shipping has increased dramatically in the past ten years if you haven't noticed. We have a flat rate for shipping, and we ship ground service. If you order ten trees the shipping total is $6.99. If you order 20 trees the total is $7.99 and if you ordered 100 trees the shipping total would be $11.99, so as you can see our shipping charges are very fair. You can see a breakdown of prices on trees on the order page here on this website.

Will these trees invade my underground pipes?

If you happen to live in a rural area and you have a septic system with a drain field, then stay away 30'+ to prevent any chance of roots growing into the drain pipes seeking moisture. If you only have sealed pipes like water lines or sanitary sewer lines then there sould be no water outside the pipes so the roots have no reason to grow toward the pipes.  

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Hybrid Willows are hardy in zones 3-10