Skip to main content

Planting and caring for a willow tree, an elegant addition to any yard or garden

A guide to caring for a willow tree

If you’re looking for a tree to plant near a river or other water source, then a willow tree is likely going to come to mind. These beautiful and elegant trees love wet soil, and they’re easier to care for than you might first suspect. Even if your backyard doesn’t have a pond or river, you can still grow one of these lovely trees. Here’s everything you need to know to successfully grow a willow tree in your yard or garden.



What You Need

  • Container with drainage holes (optional)

  • Balanced fertilizer or compost

  • Water

A weeping willow tree in a field
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Choosing a willow tree variety

Weeping willows are perhaps the most common willow variety, with their long, vine-like branches that trail toward the ground. However, there are other willow tree varieties to choose from as well!

If you’re low on space, then getting a dwarf willow might be a good idea. There are two main types of dwarf willows. Dwarf cultivars of other willow varieties are smaller versions of those trees, with dwarf arctic blue and dwarf purple being the two most common options. There is also dwarf willow Salix herbacea, a tiny creeping willow that's great for containers but has little in common visually with other willows.

If you want something visually appealing, then goat willows or corkscrew willows are for you. The goat willow, also called pussy willow, is a small willow variety with interesting puffy flowers. The corkscrew willow tree earns its name from its curvy, spiral-shaped branches.

A weeping willow tree growing beside a river or pond
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Planting your willow tree

Here's how to plant a willow tree:

Step 1: Plant it in moist, well-draining soil.

Step 2: Plant your tree in the spring or fall.

Step 3: Place your willow tree where it will get full sun in mild climates or partial shade in hot climates.

Step 4: Use a container with drainage holes if you plan on growing your willow tree in a container.

Step 5: Leave room to grow.

Willow tree sizes can vary quite a bit depending on the variety, but it’s important to space them correctly. Pay attention to how close structures and other trees are to your willow tree.

A weeping willow tree planted in a patch of grass surrounded by stone in front of a building
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Caring for a willow tree

Once you've planted your willow tree, here's how to care for it:

Step 1: Fertilize your willow tree with a balanced fertilizer or add compost in the spring.

This may not be necessary every year, depending on how naturally rich your soil is.

Step 2: Water it frequently during dry weather.

Willow trees can withstand some drought, but they need water to thrive.

Step 3: Watch for fungal infections.

As with other water-loving plants, willow trees can develop fungal infections if left sitting in water for too long.

A willow tree can turn an empty pond into a picturesque relaxation spot, but you don’t need a lake or even a big yard in order to grow this tree. With regular watering, any yard or garden can become the home of a magnificent willow tree. Whether you choose a classic weeping willow or a more unusual variety, these care tips will help your willow tree thrive.

Editors' Recommendations

Cayla Leonard
Cayla Leonard is a writer from North Carolina who is passionate about plants.  She enjoys reading and writing fiction and…
Follow this lemon tree winter guide to make sure that your lemon tree doesn’t suffer when the cold hits
Everything you need to know about keeping your lemon tree alive this winter

If you're one of the many people who own a lemon tree, you know just how sturdy those trees can be. But the truth is, harsh winters can still threaten your plant. While your lemon trees can survive a few chilly nights with the proper frost and cold protection, too many freezing nights will decrease their likelihood of survival.

Depending on which climate zone you live in, you may be able to choose whether to keep your tree outdoors during the winter holidays. If your winters are cold and brisk at night, err on the safe side and bring the tree indoors. If you live in a warmer climate, you can opt to keep your tree outside with some precautions.

Read more
6 plants you should cut back to keep your garden thriving this fall
To cut or not to cut? Here are the plants to trim in the fall
A sage plant with purple flowers

Fresh spring growth is a welcome sight in any garden, and it all starts with getting ready at the end of fall and the start of winter. Cutting back plants is one way to prepare your plants for new spring growth, and many plants can benefit from this severe pruning. This form of pruning might sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. If you're wondering how to cut back fall plants, which plants to cut, and why cutting your plants back is effective, then this is the guide for you! We'll answer all your questions, so you can feel confident as you cut back fall plants.

What is cutting back and why do it?
Cutting back is a type of pruning. Typical pruning involves removing specific branches that are diseased, damaged, or growing too closely to another branch. Cutting back, on the other hand, means pruning away all or most of a plant. This provides a few key benefits for your plants and your garden as a whole.

Read more
Amazing tips for forget-me-nots care so they don’t take over your garden
Everything you need to know about growing forget-me-nots
A bumble bee on blue forget-me-not flowers

If you’re looking for a dainty, lovely flower to use as a ground cover in your garden, you can’t go wrong with forget-me-nots. Delicate in appearance but deceptively hardy, they make the perfect additions to cottage or woodland-style landscape designs. However, these sweet-looking flowers are native to Europe and invasive in the U.S., and they can quickly spread out of control.

If you want to grow these beautiful flowers without them taking over your garden, this is the guide for you. To keep your flower healthy and under control, this forget-me-nots care guide will break down everything you need to know.

Read more