The Willows

The Willows


The genus is Salix, and has over 200 species, most of which are native to the northern hemisphere. There are about 30 species that are "trees" in the United States, and there are a many varieties among these.

We grow the -
Ameri-Willow (Our Trademark Brand)
Green Weeping Willow
Niobe Weeping Willow
Black Willow
Coastal Willow
Flame Willow
Purple Osier Willow
Laurel Willow
Coyote Willow
French Pussy Willow

Some of these items are new for next season, and may be limited in supply.

The Hybrid Willows

The planting of hybrid trees has become the way of the plant industry, and the desire for faster and better growing trees has prompted the breeding of the hybrid willows. The fruit, vegetable, and flower segments have been producing various hybrids for many years, and the forest industry has been very active in producing hybrid trees to supply our needs for wood and fiber products as well. Our particular favorites are the willows.

We can't speak for most of the hybrids out there, only for our own Ameri-Willow, but the characteristics are all similar. Of the over 200 species of Willows native to the northern hemisphere, about 30 are native to the United States. The willows are found from the Arctic Circle as low-growing shrub types, all the way south to the warmest sub-tropical areas. The willow genus Salix is divided into two broad groups - the Trees, and the Shrubs. And the Family Salixaceae also includes the Poplars, Cottonwoods, and Aspens.

The whole genus and family is characteristically found around streams and low-lying areas where the supply of water is abundant. The willows are pioneers, being the first to colonize bare ground, which often is along the streambanks after the winter storms have cleared new ground. The seeds, like the tiny tufts of cotton that the Cottonwoods produce, carries the seeds by air and water to fresh ground where they quickly establish. Whether tree-form or shrub-form, the initial growth is fast, about the fastest of any genus of tree. It is typical for first year seedlings to grow four to six feet or more when planted naturally like this.

The hybrid tree-forms also are very rapid growers, with growth rates varying from four to reportedly fifteen a year! This can vary dramatically based on planting conditions, climate, and timing. Water, full sun, and rich well-drained soils are the keys to the fastest growth. Because the willows are hardy, they can tolerate very poor heavy soils to very sterile sandy soils. Supplementing water and fertilizer is therefore desirable for the best performance. Because they are hybrids, they are sterile, and therefore don't produce the cottony seeds like the true natives. Tree shapes can vary also, from broad spreaders like the various hybrids of the Weeping Willow, to box-like hedge types, to regular spreading trees.

If you are familiar with the native Black Willow (Salix nigra), then you have a pretty good model of what the hybrids look like and grow like. Many of the hybrids are crossed with the Black, including our Ameri-Willow. The Black is naturally found from southern Maine to northern Mexico, so if you get a chance, go visit a creekside and you may find them.

There are some big advantages in planting the hybrids ornamentally. The key factor is the rapid growth, and the planting of them for privacy screens seems to be the most popular usage. They are easily trimmed and maintained, and can be grown as a hedge or single shade trees, which makes them versatile. Since they are sterile, they are relatively clean, and their shallow root systems tend to be free of sprouting or spreading. As a windbreak, the hybrids can be used, having a wood fiber that is very shock resistant, even though the wood is light weight and breakable. The cliché "bends like a willow" is appropriate here. The long narrow leaves and dark green color make for an attractive plant as well.

In forestry applications, the fast growth produces a salable fiber product in a very short time. The trees are good for paper pulp, but the wood of larger trees can be used for cabinets, shipping or freight boxes, some furniture, and even polo balls (because of the shock resiliency).

We are very biased in our opinion of the hybrid willows, but overall they are good trees to use in the appropriate setting. If its fast growth you want, you can't beat a willow.


The Ameri-Willow

Empire National Nursery, fast
growing trees and nursery plants for home garden landscaping The Ameri-Willow is a unique hybrid tree-form, bred among some of the fastest growing tree willows. The growth rates on this tree are almost unbelievable, but once you see one, you will This makes them useful for fencelines, borders, and screens, where fast growth is needed. The Ameri-Willow can also be pruned and shaped as shade trees in the landscape, or used in other tree planting projects.

The growth can be 8 feet or more in the first year, and race up to 15 feet or more in each of the next several years. By understanding the basic factors that influence tree growth, you can likely exceed these growth rates.

Do take the link to the "Fastest Growing Tree in America", and learn more about these. Empire National Nursery, fast
growing trees and nursery plants for home garden landscaping Ameri-Willow

Empire National Nursery, fast
growing trees and nursery plants for home garden landscaping The Weeping Willow is a fast growing and majestic tree. Growth can be 6 to 8 feet or more a year. As the tree gets large, the long thin branches hang down, creating a flowing umbrella of best use for these are in wet areas, or where they can be the yard centerpiece or specimen. It is important to keep weeping willows away from sewer lines, or other underground pipes.

The Coastal Willow

Empire National Nursery, fast
growing trees and nursery plants for home garden landscapingThe Coastal Willow, also called the Florida or Swamp Willow, is found from North Carolina to the tip of the Everglades swamp. The climate is mild to warm in the winters, and abundant water is where they are found. these can be trained into a small tree, but they are more of a tall shrub.Empire National Nursery, fast
growing trees and nursery plants for home garden landscaping

The Flame Willow

Empire National Nursery, fast
growing trees and nursery plants for home garden landscapingFor a large shrub to small tree, the Flame Willow is a colorful choice. It stays small, 10 to 20 feet, likes full sun, and its very hardy, especially likes the wet areas. This large shrub-form willow has orange to red fall color, Very pretty! Plant these as specimens or in a line along a border. They grow fast, can be planted as privacy screens where the fall color will be fabulous!

French Pussy Willow

Empire National Nursery, fast
growing trees and nursery plants for home garden landscapingThe favorite of many craft people are the French Pussy Willow (and the Corkscrew Willow). This small tree will get 15-25 feet tall, and tolerates Zone 4. The key feature with this small tree is the large fuzzy buds as the tree begins to leaf out. Other than for dry arrangements, French Pussy Willow does well in wet areas as a specimen tree. They can be a border, especially for low-lying wet areas. There are other species of Pussy Willow, like the Pink and the Japanese.

Black Willow

Empire National Nursery, fast
growing trees and nursery plants for home garden landscaping The Black Willow, is native to the eastern half of the country. It is a fast growing hardy tree up to 70 feet tall. A good choice for privacy screens and as a shade tree in Zones 4 to 10, these can get 12-20 feet wide. Empire National Nursery, fast
growing trees and nursery plants for home garden landscaping

Corkscrew Willow

Empire National Nursery, fast
growing trees and nursery plants for home garden landscaping The Corkscrew Willow, is a decorative tall shrub to medium sized tree, good for Zones 5 to 10, as an ornamental specimen, hedges and privacy screens, or as shade tree. Fast growth with the young stems in a siral or "corkscrew" shape.

(See all of the Fast-Growers in the Catalog)


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