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.
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.
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.
This is a Salix purpurea plant after one year.
Cut off the stems or rods back to the original cutting.
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.
Cut all the willow rods off the plant. You do not need to leave anything more than an inch of the stool above ground.
Coppicing the willow close to the ground in the first year may reduce the second year’s yield, but I think you have 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.
The first year harvest is often meager, but you can make your own cuttings from the butt ends to increase your willow planting.
In three or four years your basketry willow plants will look something like the photo above.
The willow rods are cut as close as possible to the stool. Clean cuts encourage better growth.
Before you know it you will be harvesting bundles of basketry willow!