Willow Hybrid Trees Buying & Growing Guide

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Willow Hybrid

The austree hybrid willow (Salix matsudana x alba) is a fast-growing tree that creates lush, evergreen privacy screens. The trees can grow as much as six feet per year, filling out a hedge in their first season. Austree willows are a cross between the corkscrew willow (S. matsudana) and the white willow (S. alba).

  • Austree willow trees grow well in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 9.
  • The trees require little to no pruning when grown in a hedge formation.
  • The hybrid species reaches its mature size after only six or seven years.

Where to Buy Willow Hybrid Trees

Willow Hybrid Tree Overview

Quick Facts

OriginHybrid
FamilySalicaceae
Scientific NameSalix x matsudana x alba
TypeDeciduous tree or shrub
Common NamesWillow hybrid, Austree willow
HeightUp to 75 feet tall
LightFull sun to partial shade
WateringMaintain average to moist soil
ToxicityNon-toxic
PestsHighly resistant to pests
Growing ZonesOutdoor: 4-9

Zones 4-9

Growing Zones: 4-9

 

Planting and Care
SunlightAlthough willow hybrids prefer at least six hours of sun a day, they can grow with as little as four hours daily.
WateringWater several times a week for the first year. After that, water only when it is dry or during drought conditions.
FertilizingFertilize each spring when growth emerges. Use a slow-release balanced fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 10-10-10.

Planting instructions

Japanese Dappled Willow-Salix integra 'Hakuro-nishiki'

Austree willow trees prefer a planting location that receives full sun or partial shade. They also enjoy well-draining soil and plenty of water — an area with an abundance of natural rainfall will suit them well. When you’ve found your planting site, dig a hole to the depth of the root ball and twice as wide. Place the tree in the hole, keep it upright and level, and backfill the hole with soil. Tamp the earth down lightly and water the planting site thoroughly. Add more soil if settling occurs.

Watering and nutrients

Due to their vigorous growth, austree willows are thirsty trees. For the first few weeks after planting, water the tree daily, ensuring that the moisture reaches deep into the roots. Once the trees are established, you can scale back watering to a few times per week. After a few months, austree willows only need supplemental watering during periods of extreme heat or drought. The trees are light feeders and should not require any fertilizer.

Pruning

Willow Hybrid Soil

In general, austree willows do not require much pruning, but they can benefit from the occasional trimming. First and foremost, be on the lookout for dead, dying, and diseased branches. Cut out these sections promptly and dispose of any diseased branches away from other willow trees. To prevent fungal diseases and excessive moisture, remove lower branches that sit near the ground. You can prune almost anytime, but avoid trimming during the heat of summer.

Pests and diseases

Austree willows are susceptible to a few pests, including aphids and mites. These insects rarely create problems for the tree, but if an infestation gets out of hand, there are a few ways to remedy it. Introducing lady beetles to your trees will create a natural defense against pests, but you can also use an insecticide in extreme cases. Fungal canker diseases are a common appearance on austree willows, showing up as bulbous growths on branches. Remove these infected parts of the tree as soon as you see them and dispose of them away from other willows.

Frequently Asked Questions

How far apart should I space my austree willow trees?

Austree willow trees can be planted at different spacings to create different effects in your landscape. If you are looking to create a privacy hedge as fast as possible, plant the trees approximately five feet apart. For patient growers, austree willows can be planted 15 to 20 feet apart, eventually creating taller and more robust hedges. To create even thicker privacy screens, stagger the trees in two rows. Austree willow trees will live longer and require less pruning if they are spaced farther apart.

How large do austree willow trees grow?

When planted alone, austree willow trees can grow to immense heights of over 60 feet. These large specimens will expand to widths of up to 50 feet. However, the trees are normally planted in rows and will grow much differently in this way. Trees planted in a hedge formation, spaced approximately 15 to 20 feet apart, will grow to heights around 35 feet and widths around 25 feet. The lifespan of the trees will vary depending on the planting density — willows planted close together will live and thrive for 20 to 30 years. However, they start to decline around the 20 year mark and should be replaced if being used for a hedge or privacy fence.

Do hybrid willows spread?

Hybrid willow trees have an expansive root system that sends up suckers (new growths that will eventually form into another tree). Avoid planting your willows near homes, buildings, and sewer lines, as their roots can cause serious damage. While they are not quite considered invasive, the trees will spread around your property if not controlled. Remove suckers as soon as you see them forming around the base of a tree, as they will “suck” valuable energy from the tree that could be spent in more productive ways.

Can willow trees be used for firewood?

Willow trees are classified as a hardwood, but they are softer and contain more moisture than other hardwood species. If given enough time to cure and dry, you can use willow wood successfully as firewood. Never burn austree willow wood that has been treated with pesticides — the fumes can be harmful if inhaled. Willow wood will not put off as much heat as more traditional firewoods, such as oak or pine. It also burns relatively fast, requiring you to spend more time tending to the fireplace.