There are more than 400 species of willow trees. Among these species, the weeping willow is the most popular one. Willow trees are food to many animals like rabbits and deer as they feed on their leaves, while birds make them a home as they are perfect for nesting.
Apart from the weeping willow tree, other notable willow species are gold willows, arctic willows, red willow, musk willows, and black willows.
Weeping Willow trees are native to China and Central Asia. These trees grow near water bodies, like streams, ponds, and lakes. However, they can tolerate dry conditions if they are fully grown. But for healthy development, they require at least four hours of sunlight and good drainage.
Even though willow trees can survive harsh conditions when fully grown, they do not flourish in all conditions. In this review, we’re going to look at where you can grow willow trees.
U.S Hardiness Zones Of 4 To 9
If you live in the US and intend to grow a willow tree, you should be within the hardiness zones of 4 and 9. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zones show the regions where a certain plant can thrive best, depending on the lowest winter temperatures. As a result, the weeping willow tree will do best in hardiness zones of 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9.
In the U.S, hardiness zones of 4 and 5 are found in the far northern part of the country on the mainland’s central interior. These areas are cold and usually have a less consistent range of temperatures in winter.
Zones 6, 7, and 8 are in the southern middle part of the mainland and central coastal areas, while zone 9 falls in the warmer part of the country. This is the deep southern half of the country and on the south coastal margin.
Outside the USA, willow trees are also popular in Europe and Asia. The white willow also referred to as Salix Alba, is native to Europe. The name white tone was derived from the white tone beneath its leaves. Besides, the white willow grows faster and tall, as it can reach up to 70 ft.
On the contrary, the weeping willow, also known as Salix Babylonica, is native to Asia. It is found mainly in China and central Asia. It grows between 35 and 50 ft. The plant also has a lifespan of around 30 years but can last longer if properly maintained.
If you live in one of these regions, you can grow willow trees. However, you should also observe other conditions that we’re going to discuss below.
Willow plants need rich and moist soil to grow healthy and steady. So, even if you’re within the recommended hardiness zones, you will need to select an area with ideal soil and proper drainage. The best soil should be slightly acidic with a lower pH level.
Nonetheless, this plant can endure clay, loamy, sandy, alkaline, and compact soil. And if the soil is too alkaline, you can add some organic matter to it and reduce its pH level.
It’s best if you test your soil before planting the tree. Dig some holes and examine how quickly it drains water. If the soil drains water at a rate of 1-inch to 6-inches in one hour, then the soil has excellent drainage.
But if the water takes longer than this period to drain, you should add organic matter to improve drainage.
Near Water Bodies
If you want your willow tree to grow faster and without many challenges, then you should plant it close to a water body. This includes a stream, pond, river, or lake. Most willow trees have long, far-reaching roots that will follow water bodies. The tree needs lots of water, and it thrives in it.
The roots of the willow trees can grow up to 45 feet long on average. Some species may grow even longer than this. That’s why you shouldn’t erect a willow tree near your swimming pool, septic tank, or water pipes. They will be drawn to these places and damage them.
If you’ve got an area in your garden where water settles, like a swamp or flooding area, you can plant your tree at this spot. You will no longer have a flood area on your compound as it will absorb the water on the surface.
Full Sun To Partial Shade
Willow trees require full to partial sun to grow steadily. However, this does not mean that they will die if grown in shady areas. These trees need at least 4 hours of sunlight daily. Therefore, if you live in areas with very little sunlight all year round, the tree may die.
Such areas include hardiness zones of 11 and 12. Also, you should not grow them in hardiness zones of 1 and 2.
The willow plant beautifies sceneries, but it shouldn’t be planted close to the house or very close to other trees. This is because it has long, far-reaching roots that can evade and spoil your home. However, it’s not only horizontally, but vertically as well.
The tree should be grown far away from the power lines as it can grow between 30 meters and 50 meters. Note that some willow species may grow below this height while others may exceed it. For instance, white willows can grow up to 70 feet.
If all the conditions are ideal for growing a weeping willow tree, it will be an exceptional addition to your garden. A weeping willow tree grows well in well-drained soils with plenty of sunlight in the area.
It does excellent in hardiness zones of 4 to 9. If you have a water body in your garden, you should plant the weeping willow tree near it.
However, you should avoid planting the weeping willow tree in the hardy zones that are not recommended. It will not grow well. Additionally, you should not plant it next to your swimming pool, house, or septic tank.
It will cause more havoc than good. All the best as you plant this deciduous perennial tree in your garden!