Weeping Willow Tree. A Mighty Fast Grower.

May. 7, 2010

As a child one of my favorite trees in the yard was the weeping willow tree. Unique and graceful, the drooping branches within arms reach were enough to stimulate a young imagination.

Though I never did succeed at swinging on the branches like tarzan, it was a fun tree.


Some Weeping Willow Tree facts.
Willows are great shade trees growing 50 ft tall and 35 ft wide. They’re fast growers, putting on 10 feet a year!  A water loving plant, so keep them away from your homes waterlines, but plant them near still standing water and watch them suck up drainage problems for good. Theyre still somewhat drought tolerant. And they’re true winners being one of the first trees to show its leaves and one of the last to lose them.

weeping-willow-tree-rootsMy favorite fact, they’re super easy to root. Cut some branches, strip the bottom leaves, stick them in a bottle of water and set it out in the sun. 18 short days later, ROOTS! big ones… AND its said that Willows make their own rooting hormone, so the water left behind can be used to help root other plants.

One of the coolest stories about rooting willows was on a message board, where a man, while in his youth, used the branch of a Weeping Willow Tree as a support pole in his fort. The next spring he came back and the pole had sprouted new growth and was growing into a brand new tree!

They’re so easy and fun to propagate, I couldn’t help going a little crazy! But this time, it seems it doesn’t really matter if im prepared with enough space or the right soil or a fence to keep the deer out. No matter where I plant these guys, as long as they get water, they should grow well.


planting a weeping willow tree Just starting out in May. What I didn’t realize, cuttings can be so much bigger than this and still root well and grow bigger and faster.

Growth by July

Weeping Willow Tree Growth in June 2010

Same row at the end of August

Weeping Willow Tree Growth August 2010

Weeping willow Tree Growth in August 2010Another row with slightly larger cuttings. This row stands 2 feet tall already, even after I trimmed them back pretty hard! I obviously should have given them a little more space to grow in, but Im confident that they’re hardy enough to move during this years dormancy period.

Another plus (i hope)  from shoving them all together… some of the lower branches grew straight sideways, reaching for light under the incredible top growth. I have a feeling this will create some very interesting trunks. I’ll let you know!

One last experiment. I tried the ‘fort post’ method and cut a branch about 1/2 inch in diameter and 3′ tall, trimmed the top evenly and stuck it in the ground. The leaves are kind of dry, but its not dead yet.  Hopefully that will be a successful post for the future! I’ll keep it watered and cross my fingers.

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40 Responses to “Weeping Willow Tree. A Mighty Fast Grower.”

  1. Johna Charles says:

    Thank you for so much information. I was going to buy one but I think I will just root my own. I would recommend since, you are able to explain things very well, you might want to post of anything you know.

    • Trisha says:

      Absolutely, Johna. Find a tree and take some cuttings. Take them about pencil thickness, maybe 2 feet long. Strip the leaves from the bottom and drop it in a jug of water. They’re so easy to root and grow, you’ll never need to buy one. You should have seen us stealing cuttings from the neighbors corkscrew willow! 😀 Most people wouldnt care if you took a couple small branches from their huge tree, and you can probably find them in forested areas near water. Thank you so much for the compliment!!! I do try to post about everything I learn out there in the garden.

  2. Barbara Friedman says:

    54 years ago I rooted a branch from my grandfathers weeperIt grew in my yard in mt prospect Il I rooted a branch from that tree and Planted the branch in my barn yard in WIsconsin.From the tree in the barn yardI rooted a branch and planted it in honor of my mother who passed away last May.I also planted 3 other branches from the barn yard tree and planted them in my pasture. I used your method and thought I invented it..LOL When The tree in mt prospect Il was a haven for my boys and all their friends.20 years after planting it we sold the house on the closing day we had a bad storm and the tree broke of and fell. I am so happy that I had the other weeper babies to carry on my grandfathers tree..PIP

    • Trisha says:


      you may very well HAVE invented it!!! I looked it up on the internet. There was no internet 54 years ago, so youre pretty darn clever. My! your tree has been around!!! Its so cool that you took it with you everywhere you went. What a wonderful story, thank you so much for sharing it with us!

  3. Ed says:


    Any updated photos of your willows? How did the larger cutting work out–still alive?

    I have tried cutting branches that were about 1.5″ thick and about 10 feet tall and planting them.Never had success. I would like to start out with as large as a cutting as possible.


    • Trisha says:

      No, the larger cut did not work. I didnt leave it there long, but it browned up so Im sure it was dead, so I yanked it. Im looking forward to experimenting with larger branches in water, maybe propped in a bucket. You’ll know quickly if you have success. Theyre such fast growing trees though, youll have a decent tree in just a few years. Mine are still in pots and hardly get the water or ground space they need and theyre over 5 feet tall now.

    • Caroline says:

      I cut a small branch from a willow, stuck it in the ground and about a month or so later it produced leaves. It is now growing well. I have also tried rooting another branch and it too is doing well.

  4. Mrs Miles says:

    I planted a weeping willow tree in front of our house when we first bought our home. Our kids really enjoyed helping plant the tree which was then a stick figure with barely any leaves. Our kids named the tree Lil Johnny. Now Lil Johnny is called big Johnny since it towers as tall as our two story home. For 8 yrs this tree has been admired by my neighbors for its beautiful long swaying branches. Today my tree has only two branches with leaves to indicate there’s any life left to this once beautiful tree. I am not sure what went wrong. I’ve tried all I can to save this tree but I’m not sure if I stand a chance. I’ve cut one of the living branches off and placed it in a bucket with water to see if it will grow roots. Figured I might be able to keep the memory of our kids first tree by planting a new one. If anyone can help- I would greatly appreciate it.
    Thank you!
    The Miles Family

  5. Ed says:

    Mrs. Miles, are you saying your weeping willow only lived about 8 years?

    How tall was it when you planted it?

  6. Mrs Miles says:


    Yes the tree is 8 years old. I bought this tree from Lowes as a 5 Ft. stick with few leaves. I bought it with the intention to plant it in my backyard but my husband decided to plant it in my front yard instead. I’ve noticed some bugs that look like beetles on the trunk of the tree as well as a mushroom looking growth out of the base of the trunk.

    Thanks for any advice in advance,
    Mrs. Miles

    • Trisha says:

      Oh thats Sad! At first I wondered if it was getting enough water where its at. Willows needa ton of water. Maybe the drought this year just did it in…

      What color are the beetles? Are they eating the leaves??? The growth concerns me. It could be a disease caused by fungus or bacteria, or boring insects.

      If you have a university extension or an arboretum with a plant clinic, I would take a picture of the tree and have someone try to figure it out. You might be able to bring them a sample of the tree and beetle. It might be as simple as treating it with insecticide. or may be more crucial. In any case, you dont want that to happen to your new cutting.

  7. Ed says:

    Hi, Mrs. Miles.

    Did you have any success with the branch you cut off? Did it finally sprout some roots so you can plant it to replace Big Johnny?

  8. Tessa says:

    I am going to sprout some willows off a neighbors tree but what I want to know is does one branch with roots = one tree or should I plant a few branches with new sprouted roots together to get one tree?

    Thank you,

    • Trisha says:

      Tessa, one branch will grow into one glorious weeping willow tree. Remember to keep it watered well, and try to put it in its permanent spot. Those babies grow so quickly, and their roots are very hard not to damage if you need to move them because the roots grow like crazy too, out in all directions.

  9. Ed says:

    I put three branches in water in late October 2012. In a few weeks there were roots sprouting out all over. Since then it looks like it is rotting. It’s too cold to plant it outside right now and the ground is frozen. Any recommendations? Thanks.

    • Trisha says:

      Ed, Id say plant them in a pot with soil if they’re starting to rot in the water. They do love water but it might be too much if they already have good strong little root systems going. I had a few growing in one gallon pots for over a year. I had to keep them well watered and they didnt put on much growth being contained like that, but they survived. Should at least get you past your last frost. Good Luck!

  10. Leah says:

    Can the same thing be done to start roots for a weeping willow cherry tree??

    • Trisha says:

      No, Leah. Weeping Cherry Trees are usually grafted, which means you take a cutting from an existing cherry tree, and ‘graft’ it onto a different type of tree. I havent tried it myself but you can look up information about how to graft if youd like to propagate your weeping cherry.

  11. Harley Angel says:

    I have a willow tree in my backyard by a pond and I trimmed the branches and it does not look as good as I thought it would have. Do you know how long it might take for the branches to grow back out? Any jnformation will be greatly appreiciated. (:

  12. Brian says:

    I cut about 50 willow cuttings, about 1/2 inch by 2-1/2 feet
    And put them all in a 5 gal. Bucket with water covering
    Aprox. 6 inches, Is that to many together or do you think
    They will root?

    • Trisha says:

      Brian, they should be fine in a bucket if they some have airflow and are able to breathe. 50 fit nicely, right? If theyre all shoved in there you might have issues with rotting. Check the stems every so often. If they start to turn black give them more air. Replace the water and pull some out until they’re comfortable. I think they’ll root though.

  13. Brian says:

    Thank you for your reply, Yes they fit nice an d ill keep an eye on them and watch them closely thanks again.

  14. Shaun says:

    im a thirteen year old boy and im thinking of growing one im wondering were I could get one and how old would I bee when its fully grown

    • Trisha says:

      Shaun, go for it! Theyre really fun and easy to grow. You’ll be amazed how quick a willow tree grows, like before your very eyes. If they have enough room for their roots to stretch and all the right growing conditions, you could see them grow 5 to 10 feet in a year! You should be climbing that thing before you know it, hahah!

  15. Andra says:

    Hi there, i’m glad i ran across this because i was looking for pics of young weeping willows. My husband pulled up something out of a culvert in my neighborhood. It was growing right on the bank, practically in the water. At first glance i thought it was a willow tree, but it was so bushy, i then thought maybe it was a bush. But it looks a lot like the ones you have in the pics. But we took it anyway, even if it is a bush i could still use it. The city would just pull it up eventually because it was too close to the highway and it obviously came up there on it’s own. Since it was almost right there in the water it pulled up easily and we put it in a hole filled with compost, and topped it with a bag of topsoil i already had. Anyway, it’s about five feet tall and i guess i’ll just keep my eye on it and see what happens. Do you think it could be a willow?

    • Trisha says:

      Andra, I have a few bush types of willow too, they’re very nice. I have trained some of these bush types to grow on a single stem, like a tree, they grow quickly and can reach near 10 to 12 feet. So even if you didnt get an actual tree, you might be able to shape it to look like a tree. At 5 feet, I think an actual weeping willow tree would be forming the shape of a tree. To make sure youre in the willow family, watch the leaves. Willow leaves are one of the last to fall in autumn, and one of the first to appear in spring.

      In any case, I think its cool that you saved the plant! And that you were able to move it! Sometimes theyre hard to move (easy to root, hard to move) I usually end up sending mine into transplant shock. So you did something right!

  16. shadyseattle says:

    I love willows, and I’m thinking of starting some to dry out a problem area. I’m seeing water requirement figures like 10 gallons of water per 1″ diameter of trunk, once a week or 2-3 times a week for very newly planted trees. If that’s true, then they could use most of the continuous inflo of water to my problem area.

    Those sources seem to be talking about 2-inch diameter trees using 20 gallons of water per week. I’ve got a lot of cuttings about 1/2 inch diameter. After they root and branch and leaf out, would every 4 new little 1/2 inch diameter saplings use 20 gallons a week?!?

  17. Stevie says:


    Have horse paddocks on clay soil, was told by friend to just snap branches off willow trees and plant all over the place, they would totally sort out the water problem sitting on top of clay soils during rainy seasons, is this true ?

    • Trisha says:

      I would root them in water first then plant them when the roots are a could inches long. Ive tried just sticking a branch in the ground and it didnt work for me, however Ive read that its worked for other people. Cut a few branches, pencil thickness or even a little larger. Strip the leaves from the bottom. Set them in a plastic jug with water for a couple weeks until you have a good root system going. If your planting area is in a really sunny spot and its hot out, you might want to pot them up and put them in shade, gradually moving them into the sun (this is called hardening off). Water them alot, willows love water. You should have little baby trees in no time. When you plant them out in your area, they shouldnt mind the clay, but make sure to keep watering them. Best of luck Stevie!

  18. Tonya says:

    Hi, I have a corkscrew willow or a twisted willow tree my mom gave me she rooted from her tree. I have had it planted for two years now this summer will be the third but it doesn’t seem to be getting any size to it at all any ideas as to why? It is very healthy and doing well just not getting taller. I also just recently found out this was a willow tree my mom and uncle just kept calling it a corkscrew tree and it is planted about 15 feet away from our water line should we move it?Thanks for any advice.

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  20. Reecca says:

    As a child my neighbor had a beautiful willow tree.. I didn’t mind when my Dad made me go cut a switch from it when I got in trouble, I loved that tree.. lol My Dad passed away on 5-31-13 and we laid him to rest on his Birthday, 6-4-13.. It’s been a very hard year for me because I was very very close to my Dad.. At the lower corner of my yard I planted a memorial garden for him. I wanted to put a willow tree there as well. It’s shaded half the day and sun the other half and it’s very close to the creek so I know it will do very well there.. My plan WAS to plant it on his Birthday this year which will be the 1 year anniversary of his burial.. I got a few cuttings from willow tree of my childhood neighbor. I put them in a bucket of water and all of the leaves wilted, dried up, and crumbled.. They have been in the bucket of water for a week now but they’re not growing a root system yet, actually even the stems are brown and dried up.. I can get more cuttings if necessary.. What do you suggest? HELP!! I only have about a week until I want to get them in the ground!! One is going to be planted in another area and there’s not a specific date set for planting, but I really want to get the one for my Dad planted on his Birthday.. Thank you in advance!!

  21. Pat Fischer says:

    We have a Weeping Willow that we bought at Lowe’s last year. We pruned away a single branch that was growing straight up on the top. It now has a pretty shape, but the trunk, which is about 4 ft. from the ground to the lowest branches, is only about 1 1/4 inch thick. The whole tree is about 8 1/2 ft. tall. The branch span is about 7 ft. Will the trunk grow thick enough to bear the branches?

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  24. Yes! Finally something about tree house friends.

  25. gail says:

    does a weeping willow grow from the ground up or from the top up?

  26. KELLY BELL says:


    THANK YOU !!!

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