How to Grow Pussy Willows from Branch Cuttings

One of the first signs of Spring is when the fuzzy white buds, or catkins, of a pussy willow shrub make their appearance. Growing up, my mom used to cut a few branches every Spring and bring them inside for decorations around the house. This year, around Palm Sunday, she gave me some pussy willow branch cuttings and told me to try to root them and plant them for my own pussy willow shrub. I never thought about trying to root the branches, but Why not give it a try? This is what I did:

Growing the Roots

1. Take the branches from new growth on the pussy willow shrub. Cut the branches between 8” and 12”. Place the branches in a vase filled with water. Make sure the vase is tall enough so that some of the catkins are in the water. Keep the water clean, changing it every week. After about four weeks, you should see roots forming at the bottom and sides of the branches and new greenery forming on the branches above the water.

2. Select a place where you want the pussy willow shrub to grow. In my research, I found pussy willow shrubs are very hardy and can be planted in just about any soil. Like a weeping willow, pussy willows like moist marshy areas, but they also do just as well in drier areas. They like full sun, but my mother’s are planted in morning sun and they thrive. Keep in mind that once the shrubs start growing, they need to be trimmed annually because they can become intrusive and unruly.

Planting the Branches

Dig a hole about 3-4” in width and depth. Place a branch or branches in the hole and fill with soil or peat moss. Water each day until the shrub becomes firmly rooted in the soil.

This was such an easy way to grow a new shrub. I can’t wait until I have my own catkins to bring in the house each year for decorations. Just like my mom!