Share |

Knowledge to Grow by Karen Weiland - Pussy Willow

Due to the seemingly never-ending winter that we have been experiencing this year, I went on a backyard hunt this morning to find something – anything – that showed some sign of growth. I knew that if anything was going to give me that “spring-is-almost-here” sign of hope it would be my pussy willow bush. I was right! Much to my delight, those silky little catkins were sticking their heads out of their protective cover.

The pussy willow is one of the first plants to wake up after winter. While most plants are still in their dormant stage, pussy willows bloom early in the season with a display of soft, fuzzy buds that open into small yellow flowers.

In their native habitat the pussy willow grows in a wet environment. They can be grown successfully in a backyard as long as they are given enough moisture. They grow best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade.

Because of the invasive nature of their roots, the pussy willow is often planted along stream or pond banks to prevent erosion. It is recommended to not plant pussy willow near septic tank fields, sewer pipes and water lines.

Pussy willows, which are considered to be a tree or a multi-stemmed bush, can grow up to 30 feet in height. These plants require some major pruning every year to keep them strong and healthy. I did my pruning this morning and brought the stems indoors. After removing the lower buds, I placed them into a bucket of water to force them into bloom. I will use them in my spring arrangements.

If left in the water long enough, the stems will form roots and sport leaves once the flowers have faded. If you do not want roots and leaves, take the stems out of the water and allow them to dry before using. The rooted pussy willow branches can be planted in the landscape after the roots have reached a length of about three to four inches and the chance of frost is past. They will need to be kept very well watered.

As always, Happy Gardening!

The Purdue Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange County.