Silver Willow, Salix alba - profile, plants and care

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Often, the silver willow is found in the great outdoors along river and creek banks. This already gives an indication of their pronounced preference for damp locations. But you do not need a river or pond in the garden to cultivate a silver willow there. With good care at a young age, it also grows in the normal garden soil and develops there to a beautiful tree, which is not strongly hanging or is not to be confused with its hanging relatives. From the silver willow in the gardens are always like artistic living braids formed, because simply cut off and stuck in the ground, she just grows there.

  • German name: Silver Willow
  • Scientific name: Salix alba
  • Family: willow family (Salicaceae)
  • Genus: Willows (Salix)
  • Flower color: white-yellowish (kitten)
  • Leaf color: silver green
  • Growth height: up to 35 m
  • Hardiness of frost: down to -32° C
Salix alba prefers very sunny locations, but also thrives in partial shade very well. When choosing the location, it should be ensured that the pasture can spread well, as it is very lush, especially in the upper area. The silver willow should therefore not be planted too close to a house, because its fine narrow foliage like gutters clogged. In addition, it can also happen that, for example, houses are too shaded, because the top-heavy growth is often underestimated, especially since hardly branches are formed in the lower area. Since the pasture also likes to spread in search of water, it should also not be planted too close to houses, as it may cause damage to the substance, or even ways can easily be broken from her. Tip: The so-called willow dome can be formed from the silver willow and can form a central element in the garden. However, it should be a permanent location, since a distance is very expensive.
The silver willow forms a very superficial but extensive root system. However, so that the tree can anchor well in the soil, the planting area should be well prepared. The soil should be very permeable and extremely rich in nutrients. In addition, the pH should be alkaline to slightly acidic. As part of the soil preparation, a large, but not too deep planting hole should be dug, which is filled with a mixture of compost and sand or gravel. The silver willow also tolerates slightly loamy soils, as it comes at its natural location again and again to floods and deposited there loam. Tip: The silver willow thrives well in debris, because it is a pioneer plant. Therefore, in new plants, not the time consuming preparation of the soil.
to water
The better the access to water, the better the silver willow will thrive. In the garden, for example, it can be planted near a small natural pond, but it can also develop easily in the normal garden soil. Only young plants must be regularly supplied with sufficient water in the first weeks after planting, as dried by an undersupply, the root and thus the whole plant. Even in the first years of life Salix alba should be watered regularly and extensively, at least during prolonged periods of drought.
The silver willow has a very high nutrient requirement, which is why it must be extensively fertilized in the spring. For this purpose, compost is spread around the silver silk or even the immediate vicinity of the tree can be regularly mulched, which also prevents too little water due to evaporation is available. Alternatively, special long-term fertilizers can be introduced directly into the soil over a large area around the bottom of the pasture, whereby at the same time fertilizing about the lawn or surrounding perennials. Tip: The fallen leaves can be used directly for mulching and will only be raked towards the trunk.
The silver willow often grows in the form of a tree, rarely grows bushy. It has a strong growth and reaches a respectable size within a few years. A disadvantage of the silver willow is that it is very flexible, which also like branches are demolished during strong storms. The so-called branch break is for them a natural form of propagation, as branches that fall into the water can easily grow again. Therefore, it should be cut regularly so that it remains as compact as possible.
  • Salix alba is cut in the fall before the frost.
  • On a pruning in the spring, especially if the first flowers have already opened, should be waived in any case.
  • The pruning can certainly be very strong, as a section of the silver willow barely harms and drives it again and again strong.
Tip: After storms, the pasture must be checked regularly, so there is no danger from almost broken branches or there is no danger from a partial uprooting.
Basically, Salix alba tolerates the frost without much difficulty. Only new cultures can be protected in the first years, if the temperatures are too low. For this purpose, the tree is wrapped tightly with a natural material such as jute and everything is tied tight. It is important that it is indeed a natural material that makes the tree breathe. Otherwise, it will literally suffocate in winter, which can lead to death. Although there is little risk of game bites in winter, deer like to use the tree and rub their antlers. Therefore, young trees should still be protected with fencing in the early years, as long as animals have access to the silver willow.
Diseases and pests
The silver willow is hardly susceptible to pests and diseases. exceptions:
  • Only gall mites cause visual disturbances in the construction, which can cause however no damage especially with older trees.
  • More problematic may be voles, which also like to stay in the vicinity of the pastures, especially if they have been planted in a humid location. Therefore, it is advisable to protect the root ball of newly planted cultures with a wire mesh, so that the tree can grow well.
frequently asked Questions
  • Is the silver willow suitable for a natural garden? - Yes, in any case. The silver willow is one of the first trees in the spring to bloom, making it an extremely important source of food for bees and bumblebees. Therefore, if you have a tree in the garden, you should be prepared for a loud humming in the spring, but this also leads to the bees constantly coming into the garden and pollinating fruit trees and other garden plants. In addition, birds like to settle in the branch forks.
  • Can you multiply the silver willow yourself? - Yes. For this purpose, simply strong branches are cut off and put into the ground. However, the first time they root, they need a lot of care so they do not dry out.
Worth knowing about the silver willow shortly
  • A white willow grows extremely fast and grows up to 20 meters over the years.
  • In young trees, it even happens that they grow more than two meters per year, if they get enough water.
  • This tree prefers a moist location near a body of water, but can also cope well on dry soil.
  • In order to plant it in the garden, a sunny to partially shaded place is best suited.
Some caution is advised when planting near paved paths and near water and utility services, as the white willows form an extensive root system close to the surface of the earth and are capable of penetrating conduits and lifting debris with their roots. Therefore, either a distance of about five meters to the house and to the paths should be respected or a root barrier should be used to prevent later damage.
To cut
  • Basically, a silver willow does not have to be cut, but if necessary it can be shortened a little or too much.
  • She can handle the cut very well and easily drives out again.
  • The white willow is also very good at cutting it as a pollard willow. Here, all branches are cut back in the late autumn to the trunk.
  • In spring, the white willow then drives out of the interface again and forms strong tufts.
  • If such a tree is cut to the head willow, it must, however, continue to be cut regularly.
  • All pastures can be easily increased by cuttings. For this purpose, young shoots are cut from the tree in autumn and placed in water.
  • Once new roots have formed, the cuttings can be planted.
  • Alternatively, it is also possible to put the cuttings directly in a pot of potting soil.
  • In this case, however, it is important to keep the soil always slightly moist, so the variant in the water glass is the simpler and safer.
  • A special variant of the white willow is the variety Salix alba tristis with hanging branches, which is offered as weeping willow in the trade. It is often found in large parks and lakes, but can also be planted in correspondingly large gardens. It has a very sprawling growth and green leaves.
  • The variety Salix alba sericea is by far even more noticeable than the common white willow. It has shiny silver-white leaves that are up to ten inches long and shimmer, especially in the sunshine. This tree remains relatively small at ten to twelve meters and is therefore suitable for gardens that do not provide enough space for an ordinary white willow. The variety Sericea thrives very well even on dry soil.
  • In contrast, the breed form becomes extremely large Liempde, which is very well suited for windy situations and therefore often used as a street tree.This variety has a conical crown and grows up to 30 meters high.

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