Pussy Willow – Pruning

Q: I have a pussy willow tree that is so tall I never see the blooms in the spring. Are you supposed to cut these trees back?

A: You’re lucky to have a pussy willow (^Salix discolor^) grow so tall. They are host to a multitude of insects and diseases that severely limit their life span in Georgia. Pussy willow must be pruned regularly in order to keep it small enough to enjoy the fuzzy springtime catkins. Most willows have multiple trunks, so that’s how I’ll base my advice. In January, examine the trunks to distinguish the young ones (brown bark) from the old ones (gray bark). Cut a few of the oldest branches down to twelve inches tall. Does this reduce the plant’s size so you can enjoy the flowers? If not, repeat the process in winter the following year. Prune as needed every winter thereafter.

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