The Right Place
Pussy willows are hardy as far north as Canada (zone 3). They can withstand winter temperatures as low as –35&temp; F. On the other hand, they need a period of cold to set buds, so they won’t do well south of USDA zones 7 or 8.
Planting Nursery Stock
Pussy willows grow best in full sun, but will tolerate very light shade. They manage in soil that is either coarse with sand or gravel texture, or fine with silt. They do not require good drainage, being comfortable in wet, boggy areas. Soil that is acid to neutral (pH 6.6 to 7.5) is fine.
Plant willows in any season, as they are easily transplanted. They have shallow, fibrous roots that establish themselves quickly. Buy nursery stock that is either bare rooted, or balled and burlapped. Remove all wrappings and gently loosen matted, tangled roots and spread them somewhat. Dig a hole wide enough to accommodate the spread roots. Place the tree in the hole, making certain that the top of the rootball is at, and not below, ground level. Fill the hole with soil and water generously to provide good soil-to-root contact. Allow sufficient open space around the new tree so that it won't become overcrowded as it matures.
Amendments In Planting or Transplanting
There are a number of products at the garden center that will help your newly planted or transplanted plants deal better with the stress inherent in the planting process. All healthy plants have beneficial fungi, called mycorrhizal fungi, living on their roots. You can buy these valuable additions to your plant’s ecosystem. See the file describing Using Micorrhizae When Planting.
In addition, there are a number of products such as seaweed, compost tea, and beneficial soil microbes that when added to the planting process will help your newly established plants get going faster. See the file New Technology In Plant Growth Activators
For more information see the file on Planting Shrubs. For planting tools see Hand Tools For Digging and Planting in Yardener’s Tool Shed.