How to Care for Your Weeping Willow Bonsai
With cascading branches gently draped in yellow flowers, a weeping willow in bloom can give pause to even the busiest passerby. With such unique and idyllic traits, it’s no surprise many bonsai enthusiasts would like a pint-sized version of their own.
This guide to weeping willow bonsai will answer all of your pressing questions, starting with:
Can You Bonsai a Weeping Willow?
At Bonsai Resource Center, we often say nearly any plant can be grown in bonsai form with the right care. But when it comes to weeping willow bonsai, “with the right care” is the key part of that statement.
Weeping willows aren’t the greatest beginner bonsai. It can be tricky to provide the right conditions for growth, and to control that growth after the fact. But if you’re dreaming of a miniature Grandmother Willow, don’t get discouraged—we’ll show you how!
Weeping Willow Bonsai Care Guide
In nature, weeping willows grow near ponds, streams, and other bodies of water. So, in their container, you’ll need to give them plenty to drink. On hot summer days, your tree will need to be watered several times a day. You can even place the pot in a shallow tray of water. Come winter, your tree will need less water, but you’ll still need to keep the lower layers of soil moist.
Placement & Temperature
- Growing season: Willows love a nice sunny spot from spring to fall. During the peak growing season, they prefer temperatures between 80-90ºF and full sunlight. However, if you live somewhere where the temperatures reach for the triple digits, you will want to provide partial shade on hotter days.
- Winter season: This delicate bonsai needs to have its roots protected during the winter season. If it’s planted in a container, relocate to a frost-free outdoor shed or garage. If you live somewhere with mild winters and your tree is planted outdoors, thorough mulching and protection from wind, snow, and rain should do the trick.
Weeping willow bonsai are fast-growing and use nutrients quickly. Apply soil fertilizer every six weeks, or liquid fertilizer every other week during the growing season. Alternatively, you can give your tree a steady, gentle dose of nutrients by using a specialty bonsai tree fertilizer every time you water.
Want more? Our guide to bonsai tree fertilizer can get you up to speed.
Choose a soil that retains water well but can drain properly. While weeping willow bonsai like constant moisture during the growing season, even this water-loving tree will suffer if waterlogged. Acidic soil fits the bill for this particular tree; many enthusiasts prefer a red akadema with gravel and peat moss.
Pruning & Wiring
- Growing season: Willows are no snails. They can grow up to a foot a month during the growing season! To maintain the desired shape, pinch or prune unwanted growth every other day.
- Winter season: Trim any unwanted shoots or branches and remove all but the first few nodes of the tree’s hanging twigs to make space for new growth come spring.
- Pruning shoots: Weeping willows are notorious for suckers, which are fast-growing and determined to reach full size. Catch them quickly and trim or wire to fit the shape.
- Wiring: Weeping willows require substantial training to encourage the beloved cascading shape. Apply wires early in the growing season and watch closely—they can easily eat into the rapidly growing branches.
Unlike other bonsai, which can go two or three years between repots, your weeping willow may need repotting every year. Their quick-growing roots can quickly overtake the limited space beneath ground. Prune well during repotting to create space for new growth.
First-timer? Learn how to repot a bonsai tree with our helpful guide!
FAQs: Weeping Willow Bonsai
Can You Grow a Weeping Willow Bonsai Indoors?
Sadly, weeping willow bonsai require too much sunlight to grow indoors. While you may want to bring your delicate tree indoors during inclement weather, try to keep it outdoors as much as possible during the growing season.
Can I Grow a Weeping Willow Bonsai From Cuttings?
Yes! In fact, propagating a weeping willow is easier than most trees because they’re so fast-growing.
- If starting with a standard-sized weeping willow branch, trim all the foliage and secondary branches and cut into several smaller sections.
- Place in a bucket or watering can full of water for several weeks until roots start to form.
- Next, place in small nursery pots and keep consistently moist until the cuttings bud and establish themselves in the soil.
- Your tree may even be ready for a training pot in one growing season.
How Long Will a Weeping Willow Bonsai Live?
Unfortunately, while many bonsai species can live for hundreds of years, weeping willows live around 25. That’s because quick growth is brittle growth, and willows are vulnerable to breakage, pests, and other afflictions of old age. But weeping willow bonsai make the most of their short life spans, rewarding you with a stunning, unique specimen worth the early goodbye.
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