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too scared to prune

On the" what to do now" it suggests you cut willow right back

I have a 3 foot high twisted willow a friend gave me last year. Do i cut back all the branches? too scared to with out a bit of advice.


  • The willows they're referring to are the willows (and dogwoods) that are grown for the vibrant colours of their new growth.  You cut them right back every year at the end of winter, then they grow long stright whippy shoots in the spring/summer and  when the leaves fall in the autumn you're left with vibrant red/yellow/acid green stems which look fantastic in the clear winter sunshine image

    You're growing a twisted willow which is grown for its wonderful form.  If you've got room to let this grow big you can leave it - it will grow into a tree with twisted corkscrew branches that will look fabulous in the winter.

    If you only  have a small garden you can cut it back at this time  each year and it will grow back every year.  You can use the twisted twigs that you cut off for flower arrangements etc.

     Or if you want to you can leave it as it is for a  few years then cut it back (at this time of year) when it is  outgrowing its space.

    Don't worry, you won't kill it - and if you want to you can stick the prunings in the ground and they will all grow and you can dig them up, pot them on and give them to friendsimage

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


    have a look at this hope it helps

  • Wow thanks Dove,

    will leave it be, as it is a fab shape. maybe prune it next year and see if it grows.

    thanks again

  • PalustrisPalustris Posts: 4,210

    In any case it is the wrong time of year to prune back that kind of willow. The ones which produce catkins (as your twisted one ought) should be pruned back after the catkins have finished. They come on new growth, so you remove the old to encourage new and thus get more catkins. Mind you at 3 feet high, yours still has a way to grow and can be left alone, except for removing any dead branches once it has got leaves so you can see which branches are alive.

  • I agree that pruning is very satisfying and, as you say Verdun, most plants are the better for it. However, some shrubs and trees are ruined forever by wrong pruning and it is a good idea to find out all one can about the way your plant grows before cutting into the branches of woody shrubs.It had a neighbour who cut back his camellia every year into the shape of a pincushion, making a beautiful and healthy small tree into a hideous travesty of itself.Who hasn't seen trees pruned back until they are a mass of sad, spindly twigs sprouting from stunted branches? But once you understand your plant, you can cut it back drastically and make room for other plants to grow, and at the same time regenerate the plant.  

  • I always read up about shrubs and when to prune , always best to do that and you can't go wrong ( fingers crossed!) . I was very nervous when I first starting pruning and was afraid I would murder the shrubs I look after (they are not mine which made me even more nervous!!!!) but I have been pleasantly surprised.
  • Martymower, thanks i've saved the link

    Berghill, thanks that makes sense

    Verdun, i understand what your saying but i've not been doing this long so i read up, then check again and again. but i still find pruning very daunting. i've got the hang of dead heading thoughimage

    Gardening grandma - thats exactly what im scared of

    Flower bird, thanks i'l keep reading

    I'm glrateful ive got you guys to double check with thoughimage

  • PalustrisPalustris Posts: 4,210

    The RHS book on Pruning is a very useful guide.

  • SFordSFord Posts: 224

    I had a twisted hazel and I just 'lopped off' branches during the summer that were taking over or a little out of control (the border wasnt that deep).  It was lovely, however, did grow too wide and deep for the space so unfortunately it had to go this winter (good thing is that I have lots of branches to use as props this year - have replaced it with a young cornus which will eventually be taller, but wont take over the whole border.

    I am usually quite gentle with my rose pruning as not sure really what to do, but having followed instructions in recent magazines have been strict this year.  Am hoping that this will mean better roses - mine are in pots and I already mulch, feed, deadhead and spray as necessary but they are not as good or florific as I expected.  They are about three years old now.  Am not sure if its the care I am giving them of because the weather has been so wet over the past couple of summers - balling of the buds is a big problem but generally they dont seem to be very 'robust'.

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