How To Prune Pussy Willows And When To Prune A Pussy Willow Tree

pussy-willow
Image by Tom Page

By Heather Rhoades

For many gardeners, nothing says spring like the fuzzy catkins of a pussy willow tree. What many gardeners don’t know is that you can produce better branches for catkins by pruning pussy willows. If you know how to prune a pussy willow tree, you can encourage long, straight stems which will look the best in flower arrangements. Even if your goal is just to keep your pussy willow plant tidy looking, taking time to trim a pussy willow bush will make it look lovelier in the long run.

When to Prune a Pussy Willow Tree

The first thing to learn when learning how to cut pussy willow trees is when to do it. The best time when to prune a pussy willow tree is actually when the catkins are on the tree. This will ensure that you trim the plant before it has started active growth, but you will also not inadvertently eliminate the young branches that the catkins grow on.

Techniques for Pruning Pussy Willows

There are two techniques you can use when deciding how to prune a pussy willow tree. The first is called coppice pruning and is meant to encourage the pussy willow plant to produce many long, straight catkins filled branches.

The other technique for pruning pussy willows is shape pruning and is meant to produce a full, more shapely pussy willow shrub.

Which technique you choose is up to you and what results you would like to achieve with your pussy willow.

Trim a Pussy Willow Bush with Coppice Pruning

Using coppice pruning means that you will severely cut the pussy willow back. The best time when to prune a pussy willow tree this way is right after the catkins start to fade. Trim the pussy willow down to 6 to 12 inches from the ground.

The plant will regrow rapidly over the summer and in the following late winter or early spring, and you will be rewarded with a multitude of pussy willow catkins on long, straight stems.

Trim a Pussy Willow Bush with Shape Pruning

If you desire to simply have a nicer looking pussy willow tree year round, then shape pruning will be what you need. While the catkins are on the shrub, harvest the stems that you will be using for flower arrangements and decorations.

Then, trim away and dead branches. After that, cut back by 1/3 any older branches. These can be identified by the fact that they are thicker and grey in color. Next, cut back the any young branches that are outside of the natural core shape of the shrub, or are growing inward towards the center of the bush.

Pruning pussy willows can help keep these bushes looking lovely. Now that you know how to prune a pussy willow tree to achieve your desired results, you can keep your pussy willow bush looking its very best.

This article was last updated on

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