Salix babylonica, or the weeping willow, is a whimsical giant recognized by its crown of sweeping and low hanging branches. Its long and slender leaves are an early indicator of spring with its yellow twigs and green leaves. The Willow is one of the first trees to sprout new leaves in the spring and the first to lose leaves in the fall. This species of willow is native to the northern area of China but is now a well-known tree found throughout North America.
The weeping willow is an easy to grow species of tree that easily takes root, can grow up to eight feet per year, and can easily reach up to forty feet in height and thirty-five feet in width under the right conditions. There is a vast variety of the willow tree with over 400 species. In the Spring weeping willows produce what is referred to as catkins. These are silver tinged green foliage that contains flowers. In the fall the weeping willows lance-shaped leaves turn to a golden shade.
Hardy Plant Zone
Although the weeping willow is expected to grow well in hardiness zones 6-8 it is well known to also build in hardiness zones of 4-9.
Under right conditions the weeping will reach heights of 30 - 40 feet with a spread of about 35 feet.
The weeping willow is a highly adaptable tree. It likes rich and moist soil, but it is quite versatile and can also tolerate alkaline, acidic, sandy loam, and well-drained soils. Although they are drought tolerant, they prefer growing next to water sources such as creeks, rivers, and ponds.
The weeping willow is one of the fasted growing shade trees. Under normal situations, it can grow approximately two feet per year but have been known to grow up to eight feet in a year. Their growth rate begins slow, but once they get to a height of about ten feet, their growth rate speeds up.
Characteristics and Appearance
The weeping willow has a personality all of its own. With its rounded crown and weeping and flowing branches, it is a majestic presence in the yard. Some of the branches can grow so long that they can touch the ground. The leaves are lance-shaped and turn to a yellow hue in the Spring. The trunk has rough and gray bark that is marked by branching ridges which result in deep furrows. These trees are highly adaptable and easy to grow. This tree has been a favorite among tree lovers since they were first discovered.
Uses in Landscaping
The weeping willow is the perfect shade tree for any yard. With its great height, long flowing branches and dense foliage it provides an excellent shade area for sitting beneath during hot summer months. It can quickly grow anywhere in the yard but loves water. Placing a weeping willow next to a river, creek, or a pond may not only aid in its growth rate but enhances the yard with a magical feel. Planting them in areas of the yard where you have water issues, such as low spots that tend to puddle, is a perfect solution to the problem at hand. They can be grown individually or in groves for an even more dramatic effect.
The Willow is a tree that stands out compared to other trees. With its sweeping branches and weeping canopy, the weeping willow is a favorite to people who desire a majestic and whimsical feel to their property or a focal point of beauty. The Willow is the fastest growing shade trees and is a favorite among children for climbing and hiding within its dense canopy and dropping branches.