Willow cuttings for sale in the USA

willow cuttings for sale

Dunbar Gardens willow cuttings for sale

Searching for willow cuttings in the United States? Dunbar Gardens has a nice selection of willow cuttings for sale that can be used for basketry, living willow structures, hedgerows and other garden use. You can find the list, prices and details on our website page: willow cuttings. Our interest in willows started with Katherine Lewis’ basket making. She wanted to work with a material that we could grow on our farm. Since the early 1990’s we have sourced willows from growers in the UK and the US as well as friends and fellow basket makers. Along the way we have collected varieties that both grow and weave well.

harvested willow bundles at Dunbar GardensBecause we are growing willows for Katherine’s basket weaving we have an ample supply of fresh willow rods to use for making cuttings. Our goal is to provide good sized cuttings at a reasonable price. There are a huge number of willows available and we don’t try to fulfill every gardener’s needs. Although the number of sources in the United States are limited, there are nurseries on-line to order from and get information. Here are some other sources to compare varieties and prices with what we have for sale.

Vermont Willow Nursery is located in northern Vermont. Michael Dodge is a trained horticulturist that has become obsessed with willows in his “retirement”. He and his wife offer a very large selection of willows which they sell as cuttings and live rods. If you are looking for ornamental varieties their website is a great place to start. They are very conscientious about accurate descriptions and taxonomy.

Willowglen Nursery has been growing willows since 1988. They sell willows, baskets and offer a variety of classes. They sell a limited selection of cuttings as well as live and dried rods. There are not many images on their website but they are easy to correspond with and knowledgeable.

Double A Willow is the licensed commercial nursery to grow and distribute patented varieties developed by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Most of these willows were developed for large scale biofuels projects. Since they have bred these willows, you won’t see any of the common heirloom varieties that most of us are growing; though they do sell cuttings for other uses like living willows, privacy fencing and basketry. They do not sell cuttings to Washington, Oregon, Idaho or California.

Big Rock Trees is located in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. They have a fairly large selection of willows and hybrid poplars. Their website is easy to navigate and has some good photos of the varieties. They also sell living willow kits.

Gardeners in the US can also consider buying cuttings from Canada. Shipping across the border requires a phytosanitary certificate which the nursery will provide but charge you for it. Nurseries in Canada are obviously interested in selling to the large number of potential US customers. There are a couple that are worth checking out.

Lakeshore Willows is located in Wainfleet, Ontario. They grow about 30 varieties of willow which they offer as cuttings, living rods, and dried willow for basketry. Lene Rasmussen is a native of Denmark and she has been inspired by many of the willow growers and basket makers in Denmark. Lene is another grower that brings the experience of basketry and working with willows to her business. Great website with lots of photos and information. Check out her list of classes as well.

Blue Stem Nursery is located in Christina Lake, British Columbia. They are a mail order nursery of grasses and willows. Although their expertise is in grasses, their website is very informative about growing and using willows with good images and descriptions of the varieties they offer. They sell both cuttings and full size live rods.

Of course we hope you will return and buy willow cuttings from Dunbar Gardens. If you do buy from one of these other mail order willow nurseries, let them know how you found them!

Dunbar Gardens willow cuttings selection

willow cuttings approved by Spike

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Coppicing basketry willow

basketry willow cuttings

Dunbar Gardens willow cuttings “basketmaker’s package”

So you bought some willow cuttings and you’re wondering how to prune them. Of course you can always read the handy growing tips on our website but the following photos show the essentials to getting started coppicing your basketry willow.

planting basketry willow cuttings

planting basketry willow cuttings

You get your garden soil ready to plant and mark your rows. Insert cuttings with the buds facing up. We give our willow cuttings a slanted cut on the root end to help them slide into the soil and make it easy to decide which end goes down.

basket willow planting

new willow planting

basketry willow plants

first year basketry willows

After a year your willow plants might look like the ones above. I planted these in late May which isn’t optimum for our climate, but shows what they might look like in less than ideal growing conditions. You can most easily prune or coppice them during the winter months when they are dormant. We do most of our cutting from December through March.

first year basketry willow plant

first year’s growth

This is a Salix purpurea plant after one year.

pruning basketry willow

cutting the willow rods

Cut off the stems or rods back to the original cutting.

pruning basketry willow

pruning back the original cutting

pruning basketry willow

pruned back to an inch

I usually recommend leaving a couple of inches of the cutting above the soil level when planting. When you are coppicing the plants after the first year don’t hesitate to cut the original cutting back to within an inch of the ground above a lower stem.

pruning basketry willow

finish cuttings stems off

Cut all the willow rods off the plant. You do not need to leave anything more than an inch of the stool above ground.

first year willow stool

first year coppiced stool

Coppicing the willow close to the ground in the first year gives you a better stool for the long run. The willow stool gets a little higher each year as it matures so it is advantageous to start it out low. It will be easier to prune and hopefully lead to straighter willow. If you have planted through a poly ground cover, you probably want to leave the stool higher.

basketry willow withies

new cuttings from first year’s harvest

The first year harvest is often meager, but you can make your own cuttings from the butt ends to increase your willow planting.

new growth willow stool

new growth from coppiced stool

basketry willow

four year old coppiced willow plant

In three or four years your basketry willow plants will look something like the photo above.

coppiced willow plant

coppiced willow

The willow rods are cut as close as possible to the stool. Clean cuts encourage better growth.

basketry willow harvest at Dunbar Gardens

basketry willow harvest

Before you know it you will be harvesting bundles of basketry willow! If you haven’t purchased your willow cuttings yet, head over to our website to see our great selection.

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Planting willow

willow cuttings

willow cuttings

What to do with those willow cuttings? Willows are usually propagated by planting hardwood cuttings directly in the soil. This method works especially well with willows grown for basketry and other garden uses. Dunbar Gardens sells cuttings about 11 inches in length like the bundles in the photo above. On the farm, I usually  find that an 8 inch cutting is adequate.

planting willow cuttings

planting willow cuttings

I till the soil in advance and then simply insert the cutting into the ground with the buds facing up.

new willow planting

new willow planting

These basketry willows are planted in rows that are 32 inches apart and spaced 8 inches in the row. After the photo was taken, I trimmed some of these cuttings back to two or three buds remaining above ground.

planted willows leafing out

planted willows leafing out

Success rate on the willows generally is quite high. I have had some disappointments. For example, Salix purpurea x daphnoides does not seem to root quite as easily and S. purpurea ‘nana’ has very slender wood  which makes rooting in the field more challenging.

second year growth

second year growth

A frequent question is what to do the second spring? I cut back most of our willows to within an inch of the ground level like in the above photo. This pruning will encourage the growth near the base. The stool is going to get a little higher each year that the willow is coppiced; so it is important to start low.

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Catkins

Blue Streak catkins

Blue Streak catkins

Mention willows and many people first think “pussy willows”. Usually people think of the large catkins that are produced in the spring on Salix caprea, S. cinerea, or S. chaenomeloides, but many of the willows produce attractive catkins. Willows are dioecious, which means that male and female flowers are born on different plants. In addition, depending on the species, catkins are produced before leaves (precocious), at the same time (coetaneous), or after the leaves have formed (serotinous). So it goes without saying that there will be a lot of variation in how different cultivars flower and their ornamental quality.

Sekka catkins

Sekka catkins

Sometimes you get a package deal like these catkins on this Japanese variety that has ‘fasciated’ stems. Other times the catkins are small and almost inconspicuous like the ones below.

Forbyana catkins

Forbyana catkins

For some gardeners, the catkins are the whole reason for having the willows. The catkins are just an extra benefit for us. There is nothing like a cool, sunny day in February or March with the catkins popping on the willows. A little later and a little warmer, the anthers will start to open and bees will emerge to visit the flowers. That’s when I realize I better get working and get the willows cut before they leaf out!  Right now I still have the time to admire the black catkins of melanostachys against the blue sky.

Salix gracilistyla var. melanostachys

Salix gracilistyla var. melanostachys

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