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Questions about creating a willow tunnel

This weekend our neighbours were cutting back some overgrown willow so we took some 'whips', put them directly into water and then, about half an hour later when we were ready for them, put them directly into the soil in our garden to create a couple of willow tunnels.  I put them in quite deep (about a foot, possibly a little more) and have been keeping the ground saturated where they're planted.  My understanding is that they should develop roots soon enough and will grow from there.  However, I have a few concerns and I wonder if someone can manage my expectations here;

1.  Research tells me this should ideally have been done over Winter and into Spring with April being the latest I've seen.  Well, it's mid-May and I've done it.  Is this likely to be a big problem? 

2.  The leaves have shrivelled somewhat but I'm hoping this is to be expected and that they will revive themselves eventually.  Is this purely wishful thinking or are they on a downward slope to 'dead'?

3.   If they do grow, will the roots be kept in check and prevented from "travelling" by constant pruning?  I can't see each whip will be more than 3m but I don't know how willow roots behave.  If someone could enlighten me, I'd be very grateful.

I'm grateful for any help anyone can offer and appreciate your patience.

All the best


  • JellyfireJellyfire Posts: 1,139
    If you keep them well watered I think they will take fine, and even if not they may be. They take pretty easily. Id probably take off any leaves that are shrivelled and dead, leaving a couple at the top which the whip will hopefully be able to hydrate enough. Willow are thirsty and their roots travel deep and wide looking for water, so if the roots travelling are going to be a problem they may not be the best option tbh. 
  • FireFire Posts: 17,332
    Check which kind of willow you have. Only a few supple ones are suitable for training into structures. Goat willow won't work.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,634
    Agree - special willows are grown and coppiced for making such structures and for weaving baskets and other goods.   As JF says, if they grow they'll suck up enormous amounts of water so probably not good near where you're trying to grow ornamentals and veggies but fine in a wilder bit of garden or grass.  If they do take, their growth will be vigorous and require regular trimming and training to keep the structure homogenous.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Bagpuss57Bagpuss57 Posts: 256
    I've been researching this recently as I have some willow whips I got originally in the summer and while on holiday for a £1 (already in pots though) They survived and since, I've cut more whips and stuck them ina pot and they seem to grow fairly easily! It is best like you have found out to do this in winter/,early spring but mine have still survived even though I've neglected them! I had been researching willow structures as we wanted one in our school garden but after we heard some schools had problems with wasps nests as they are attracted to the bugs that congregate, we were told we couldn't have one. But I have found that wasps are not an issue if the bugs are controlled. I'd love to create a plaited willow tree. I've seen them sold in garden centres really expensive. I've watched YouTube clips and think how hard can it be? I just need more willow whips to get me going!!!! 
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