Spring Cut Backs



It’s that time of year again! I love entering our greenhouses, with all of our wintered over plants just waiting to come outside. At the first signs of spring, we are taking off the wiggle wired doors of our cold frames and determining what survived the Nebraska winter. Once a plant has started to leaf out, we can breathe easy again!

One shrub that is first to sprout in our cold frame is the dappled willow. These shrubs can reach 8-10’ tall and wide. They prefer a sunny area for the best colors, but can tolerate a shady situation too. The foliage buds a light green, turning to a peachy-pink and finally ending with white and green mottled leaves. This is a great plant to add to the landscape where you need some large coverage. They are really fast growing, so using them for a screen or wind break is a great option.

In the containers, we are going to cut them back to about 50% of its size with hedge shears. These willows are pretty resilient, so they can take a major haircut. It’s okay to prune them as the foliage is emerging, or you can wait until they are fully leafed out. In the landscape, the pruning will depend on the willow’s function. Is your end-goal to create a huge hedge? You can take the hedge shears and clip the tips back about 12-15”. Remove about 3-5 canes that are sprouting from the ground, removing them at ground level. Are you looking to keep the willow around 5-6’ tall? Cut it down to about 3-4’ each year & remove about 3-5 canes from the base of the plant. Heavy haircuts in back-to-back years may make it difficult for the plant to keep generating new growth. If you can, alternate your heavy haircut years.

If you have any questions on this or other landscape items, visit our website ‘colorgardens.com’.

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