The care information provided in this section represents the kind of practical advice is available for all the plants in this web site if you subscribe to the monthly customized newsletter Yardener’s Advisor.
Willows require lots of water. They like their soil to be moist, preferably wet, all of the time. They will need supplemental water when they are first planted and just before the winter freeze. During periods of drought when rainfall is scarce and creeks dry up, they will need watering once or twice a week. If local water restrictions permit, run a sprinkler for to 30 minutes each time. Lay mulch over the root area to help the soil retain moisture. Pussy willows are fairly resistant to heat. For information on products see the file on Choosing Watering Equipment
Feed pussy willows once a year in the fall. Sprinkle fertilizer on the soil under the tree out to 1 1/2 feet beyond the tips of its branches (the drip line). Do not let the fertilizer touch the trunk. Use about 1/2 pound of fertilizer for every 1/2 inch of trunk diameter measured at its base. For larger trees, use 1 pound for each inch of trunk diameter. Do not apply fertilizer when planting a tree, nor during the first season. For more information see the file for Fertilizer Products
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A 2 to 4 inch layer of some organic material such as chopped leaves, wood chips or shredded bark will keep the soil moist, and discourage weed problems. By itself or over landscape fabric laid under the tree first, mulch will prevent evaporation of moisture from the soil and protect the shallow roots from damage from lawn mowers.
Willows do not require pruning, but because they grow so quickly, judicious pruning of pussy willows will keep them under control. Spring is a good time to cut back the 4 to 6 feet of growth from the previous year. A bonus is a harvest of graceful boughs of fuzzy catkins to bring indoors to celebrate spring's imminent arrival. Winter storm damage to brittle limbs, may require some pruning. Remove all broken or splintered branches.