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Twisted Willow


I am new to here and new to gardening in general but we plan to do something with our garden this year!

I have what I believe to be a twisted willow tree which is about 6foot tall. I have no idea how to care for it, it has looked after its self since we moved in 3 years ago.

I need to move it to another spot as it is currently in the middle of the patio in a 3ft square area with an Acer. It appears to have 2 trunks, one of them is all curly, the other one splits into 2 and 1 branch is curly and the other is straight? Is this normal?

What is the best way to move it?





  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,007

    The best time to move it is autumn or winter when it is dormant and the roots can recover without the stress of having to pump up sap to the foliage.   You then just dig it up and put it ina well prepared new hole, firm it in and water it.  Well prepared means already dug deeper and wider than teh root ball and with well rotted garden compost or manure or other soil conditioner to help improve the soil so it establishes quickly.

    If you must move it now, dig it up with as big a root ball as possible as soon as possible.  Plant as above, and water it every week, come rain or shine, till next autumn's leaf drop.    Willow take up a great deal of water and it won't like drying out.

    As for the straight stems, these need cutting out every year after leaf fall which is when you can see them best.  You can still do it now if you're quick but the sap is rising now and it may bleed a little.

    Try to disturb your acer and its roots as litle as possible but, just in case, work in some soil conditioner round its base and water it well too.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • OlivedogOlivedog Posts: 43

    Thanks very much. The Acer also needs moving but they can wait til Autumn is that would be better, I don't want to kill them! Does the willow need to be pruned? Do I cut the straight stems out from the ground?

  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,167

    We moved a twisted willow about 12 years ago, I had a guy with a mini digger when I was initially doing this garden. I'm afraid we just scooped out a hole and dropped it in. About 4 years ago it fell over, so I persuaded some strong men to come and lift it up and we supported it with a strong branch pruned from something else with a 'Y' shape at the top which is tied on. So it has had an eventful life, but still survives. I think they must be pretty tough.

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,007

    Yes, prune the straight stems out now from the base of each stem.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Gold1locksGold1locks Posts: 498

    As Obelixx advises, remove straight stems. the twisted willow has been grafted onto a different rootstock, and the straight stems are from this. They will eventually take over. I doubt if you will get any shoots of the twisted cultivar coming up from ground level, so remove them as soon as you see them. If you can, remove them up close to the root underground. 

  • OlivedogOlivedog Posts: 43

    The straight and curly bits come from the same big stem at the bottom? Do I just hack off the straight bit and hope it won't damage the curly bit? or get rid of both and leave the other all curly one?

  • A word of warning- make sure you put it somewhere suitable as they can get very big over time. I grew mine from a twig no fatter than a pencil, that I cut off my Mum in laws tree. 40 years later it was 40ft tall with a trunk that's 18inches across at waist height. We had 10ft taken off the top 2 years ago to reuduce the shade, but it is still a magnificent  specimen.

  • OlivedogOlivedog Posts: 43

    Diggingdoris, this worrys me! It is currently about 8foot away from the house, we moved here 3,5 years ago and it has grown although not hugely. How fast do they grow? and should be be concenred that it is so close to the house?

  • Gold1locksGold1locks Posts: 498

     You may be able to see the knobbly scar formed at the graft, and if so then the stright stem should emanate from just below the scar and the curly one just above the scar.  In any event, just remove the straight one, close to the trunk, as cleanly as you can with a sharp blade. 

  • Silver surferSilver surfer Posts: 4,709

    Please can you add a pic to this thread.

    From your description it sounds like Corylus avellana contorta... a twisted Hazel.


    It is prone to sucker from the graft below ground level.

    All straight growth from below ground, must be removed or you will have a plain Corylus avellana. An ordinary  Hazel tree. See this pic which shows suckers....


    Perthshire. SCOTLAND .
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