Black Willow Information: How To Grow Black Willow Trees

black willow
black willow
(Image credit: Franklin Bonner, USFS (ret.),

Whether they grow as shrubs or trees, black willow (Salix nigra) are typical willows, with elongated green leaves and slender trunks. If you are growing black willows, you know that the distinguishing feature of this tree is its dark, furrowed bark. For more black willow information, including tips about how to grow black willow trees, read on.

What is a Black Willow?

Not every gardener is familiar with black willow. Black willow trees are typical willows with long, thin leaves that drop in autumn. The leaves are shiny green on the tip and softer green below. Like most willows, black willow flowers are catkins. The flowers are yellow and produce a small reddish brown capsule that contains the small, furry seeds. Black willows can grow to a height of 100 feet (30.5 m.) in the wild. They are native to this country and grow naturally on riverbanks and in flood plains. According to black willow information, cultivated trees often grow as large shrubs or smaller trees. How is it different from other willows? Although black willow foliage is very like other willow tree foliage, the bark is quite different. Many willows have smooth, light gray or brown bark. Not this one. Black willow bark is thick, dark, and deeply furrowed. Wildlife appreciate black willows. Deer and other mammals browse these willows and many use it as shelter. Honeybees are happy for the nectar. Humans use their wood for lumber, furniture, and doors and also plant them as shade trees.

Black Willow Tree Care

If you are wondering how to grow black willow trees, it is really quite easy in the right location. With good black willow care, the trees can shoot up some 4 feet (1 m.) per year. Black willow information tells us that the trees grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 2 through 8, so don’t plan on growing black willows in hot zones. Even with the best of care, the trees will not thrive in heat. That said, you need to plant black willows in a full sun location. The most important rule about how to grow black willow trees is to provide adequate and regular water. Given sun and water, the trees grow without many problems.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.