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Freshly cut willow - using as plant supports?

Hi, I've cut loads of willow back today as it had grown into a beast - it's the type that is planted as whips and used as a type of hedge. I don't know any more than that as it was the previous owners who planted it.

Anyway, some of the stems I've cut back are the perfect size for plant supports - like proper willow sticks/pea sticks etc. However I need them to die off first, otherwise they will just root as soon as I stick them in the soil.

Is there any way to kill them off quickly so I can use them in the next couple of weeks? Or do I have to wait and store them somewhere for a long time before using them, to kill them off? I guess I was thinking about putting the ends in boiling water to see if that works (I don't want to use chemicals), but is that utterly pointless? Any tips?


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 83,881
    edited June 2021
    I’ve known ‘dead’ willow to root ... it happened to
    me in a previous garden when @WonkyWomble was a baby ... when I drive past that garden now there are huge trees where I stuck those three willow twigs ... 😮

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Anna33Anna33 Posts: 310
    Ah, darn it, was really pleased with the sizes and sturdiness of some of the stems...! They would only be in for a season, as supports, so was hoping that killing them off now would mean no rooting!
  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 4,408
    Maybe char the ends on a firepit or barbecue?
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 8,847
    Are they an appropriate shape to use upside-down? Conventional wisdom is that hardwood cuttings don't root if you put them in the wrong way up. Although willow being willow, I wouldn't be surprised if it did.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    I would keep them for a year in a shed
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 83,881
    Fire said:
    I would keep them for a year in a shed
    Just the one? 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Anna33Anna33 Posts: 310
    @Buttercupdays Didn't think of charring/burning the ends, that could be a plan. And @JennyJ, they do still taper so wouldn't be as good upside down. And I agree, willow being willow, they'd still find a way!!

    Maybe I'll just stick with the old bamboo canes to be on the safe side....! Thanks all. :)
  • nick615nick615 Posts: 1,366
    With not much else with which to stick my peas, I found that, by planning ahead, I could cut willow as soon as the leaf died off in October-ish, divide it into a usable length, tie the sticks into bundles and I left them on the garden all winter.  I stuck my peas the following March/April and none sprouted.  Depending on numbers involved, it'd be worth a trial to shave the bark off to see if that stopped sprouting.  Chew a stick if you've got a headache - contains aspirin.
  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601
    I tried upside down but it rooted anyway!
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,141
    A couple of decades or more ago we had council groundsmen cutting back willows along a stream that ran thru the field next to our house and down to a flood plain that needed management.  This was winter, before the sap started rising and it was a filthy day so the chaps sheltered in our garage to eat their lunch.

    As a thank you, they happily gave me two truck loads of the chippings to spread on the garden.   I left it in piles for a couple of months which included temps down between -15 and -20C.   Nevertheless, when I started spreading it as a mulch on newly planted new beds later that spring I found baby willows growing from some of the chips.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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