Can You Root A Pussy Willow Branch: Growing Cuttings From Pussy Willow

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By Liz Baessler

Pussy willows are some of the best plants you can have in cold climates because they’re virtually the first to wake up from their winter dormancy. Putting out soft, downy buds followed by bright, almost caterpillar-like catkins, they bring much needed early life and color to their native regions of Canada and Eastern United States. But can you root a pussy willow branch? Keep reading to learn more about pussy willow propagation, particularly how to grow pussy willow from cuttings.

Can You Root a Pussy Willow Branch?

Growing cuttings from pussy willow trees is actually one of the easiest propagation methods out there. Willow trees, pussy willows included, contain a natural rooting hormone. In the past they were frequently steeped in water to make a “pussy willow tea” that was then used to encourage other cuttings to develop roots. This method is seeing a real comeback lately as a natural alternative to commercial rooting hormones.

If you want more pussy willow trees, you can hardly go wrong. Be aware, however, that the roots will travel far in search of water. Don’t plant your new trees anywhere near underground pipes or septic tanks, or you’ll be in for a lot of trouble in a few years.

How to Grow Pussy Willow from Cuttings

The best time for rooting pussy willow branches is spring. Cut a length of new growth that’s about 1 foot (30 cm.) long and as straight as you can find. If there are leaves on the cutting, remove them from the bottom few inches.

You can start your cuttings in water or plant them directly in soil – both have high rates of success. If you’re using soil, sink the cuttings several inches into it and water it regularly since pussy willows like wet conditions. If you set the cutting in a glass or bottle of water, you should see white roots start to develop soon.

Once the roots are 3-4 inches (7-10 cm.) long, you can transplant the cutting to soil. And don’t throw away that water! You’ve just made your own pussy willow tea – put some other cuttings in that glass and see what grows!

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