Frequently Asked Questions

How do I look after it in exceptionally hot weather?

 

During very hot weather, the willow wand can become dehydrated, which can result in drooping, pale or yellowing leaves. When it is unusually warm, a plant with a reasonably sized crown can drink a gallon or more of water per day, so even you are watering daily, it might not be enough. Our advice, given that it is impossible to over water a willow wand, is to sit the pot in a large tub of water and keep the compost practically submerged. You can also trim the crown back which will result in less water loss, as well as allowing new green leaves to emerge.

Another idea is to use decorative containers with no drainage holes enables you to completely waterlog the pot, and the decorative mulch helps to conserve water. Just re-saturate every few days

 

Will the stem of my Wand grow any taller?

 

No! the height of the woven stem you plant is fixed for life. Think of it as the trunk of your tree – once established, the trunk of a tree doesn’t get any taller, just a little thicker in diameter each year. Same with your Wand – a small wand won’t grow to a large one.

Since you are only allowing the topmost buds to develop into the crown, it is only the ‘branches’ that grow any taller – and you simply trim those to the desired shape and size, so the plant as a whole never get any bigger as long as you trim that crown back at least once per year.

And don’t try to weave those branches together to make a taller stem… it looks easy, but is exceptionally difficult to achieve that stunning symmetrical weave!

My Willow Wand seems to have little catkins on it, what should I do?

You will find that little yellow coloured catkins may appear briefly, no need to remove and they will fade naturally within a week or 2. The Wands are to provide shape and architecture in your garden rather than colour.

There are brown marks on the leaves of my Willow Wand, what would cause this?

Discolouration can occur from one of two things.  If it is from the tips, in a straight line, then is due to lack of water, if spots or blotches appear on the leaves then is sun-burn from getting leaves wet this will particularly occur in hot sunny weather.

Do I plant it in containers or in the ground?

Either! If in a pot, then just make sure it is an adequate size – at least as big as the crown you wish to grow. When we put our pots into decorative containers, we just find one that that the pot fits into exactly, and simply top it off with a decorative mulch on the surface. Of course any plant in a container must always be kept well-watered, see below for more tips.

How long can you leave the wand standing in water before planting?

You should only keep the Wand in water temporarily until you can plant it in tis permanent position. DO NOT leave in water for more than a day or two if at all possible. If left in water for too long, whilst it may appear healthy it may suddenly go into shock once planted in soil or compost. In any event never let buds or roots get longer than 1cm before planting – but the sooner planted, the better the results.

How deep do I plant it?

It depends on the size you buy: from just 7cm (3”) for the ‘bonsai’, to 20cm (8”) for the extra-large. A rough rule of thumb is to aim for a minimum of 15% of the total length of the Wand to be under the surface. However, the most important thing is to firm it in very hard – much more so than when planting ordinary plants.

What soil or compost?

Almost any – Willow isn’t fussy and will grow in almost any conditions except very sandy soil. It loves heavy, wet clay soils, and even waterlogged conditions! If planting in a container we recommend using a little (10-20%) garden soil or loam-based compost mixed in with any multi-purpose compost. They particularly like the low or non-peat-based products now available.

Should I replace the cable tie if its broken?

No, there is no need to replace the cable tie – you could put a new willow collar decorative ribbon, raffia or similar round the top if you want, but the cable tie is simply to hold the stems until they have grafted together, which should take a couple of years.

For an established Wand such you may wish to consider giving the branches of the crown a hard prune in early spring, say the first week of March just before bud burst, to within 3 or 4 inches of the wand. This will look drastic for the first few weeks but will encourage new growth and you will regain a tight, dense canopy again… if that’s what you’re after.

How often do I trim the topiary crown?

Between once and 4 times per season – less if you want a loose, informal effect, and more often if you want a dense, ‘box-hedge’ formal topiary style.

Why do I need to take off the buds from the main stem?

In order to maintain the beauty of the handwoven stem – left to grow by themselves, those buds would cover and hide the stem with side branches. It’s very easy to rub them off as they appear, when they are about 1cm long. You will get lots to start off with, but within a season or two soon they will virtually stop appearing.

The leaves started to grow well at first but then have died off, what’s gone wrong?

It probably dried out. If your willow has dropped its leaves then completely soak it and keep saturated for 3-4 weeks and there’s a chance they will sprout new leaves, possibly from lower down the stem rather than from above the decorative collar. If this is the case, allow the uppermost of those buds to develop into the new topiary top, ensuring each of the 9 stems has at least 1 branch developing from it. Rub off lower buds as normal.

I have had my wand for a couple of weeks now and nothing seems to have happened

It is not unusual for some wands to take several weeks to ‘wake up’. Sometimes it can be as long as three or four weeks, or more in a cold Spring. Much depends on the average temperature. But remember- the more frequently you water in the first few weeks, the faster it will sprout its first leaves.

The decorative collar at the top has come off - how can I hide the cable tie?

Simply find some Willow or dogwood that is growing in the area, snip off a 30-50cm length, then wrap it tightly round the cable tie and finish with a simple slip-knot, tightening as far as possible. Alternatively, simply wrap some hessian ribbon or string around the tie to hide it.

Holes are being eaten in the leaves of my Wand – help!

If the holes are large and from being eaten from the edge of leaves it is most likely to be caused by slugs; large holes in the middle of the leaves will most likely be due to snails. General advice on treatment options can be found on the RHS website
Slugs
Snails
If the holes are smaller, or many leaves are rapidly being completely stripped, then the more likely cause is small caterpillars of the tortix moth – either hand-pick the caterpillars off or spray with a contact or systemic insecticide.
No matter the cause, whilst temporarily unsightly, it is rare for such pests to seriously damage the health of the plant, unless it is just establishing- even if leaves are completely stripped bare, new buds will usually re-grow within a few weeks.

Aphids are attacking my Wand

This is quite common but very easy to sort: if they are just on the tips of the shoots, then simply pinch out the growing point, and most of the aphids disappear with those tips. For more severe infestations then spray with a weak solution of washing-up liquid every few days for a week or so and that should clear it up. Again, it is rare for this pest to seriously affect the long-term health of your Wand.

What should I do about ants?

Ants are not in themselves a problem to plants unless their nests are causing a major disturbance to the roots. If seen travelling up and down the stems or on leaves in significant numbers, this almost always indicates that aphids are present on the plants. The ants are attracted to them as they secrete a ‘honeydew’ which the ants then harvest and feed to their young. So, look at the stem tips in particular and if you find lots of aphids then treat as detailed above.

Why doesn’t the crown look neat and tidy like the photos?

The more you trim, the more bushy and dense the crown becomes! If the branches at  the top have become long and straggly- be ruthless- prune back by at least 50% or more. Just remember, never cut into the original stem of the wand. The plant will look sorry for itself for a couple of weeks but will soon send out lots of side shoots, especially if you water it well too. Trim these new shoots by 50% after several weeks and the crown will very soon have filled in. Trimming 3, 4 or even more times the first season will keep a tight and dense canopy.  Once the crown has reached the size and shape you want, then simply trim like you would a hedge to maintain it.

I want to move my Wand to a new position

No problem – if in a pot then simply plant out as you would any other shrub or plant – keep copiously watered until well established. If in the ground then wait until winter when the plant is dormant then slice round the base of the plant, cutting through the roots, but not damaging the original Wand. Prune the crown back hard – again taking care not to cut into the original Wand. Water well until established…

Not found the answer to your Question?

If we haven’t covered your query above, please don’t hesitate to get in touch as we want everyone to love the Willow Wand as much as we do!

Can I grow my Wand indoors?

No! English Willow needs to be outdoors – it likes cool, damp conditions, and will struggle with the lack of light and warmth either indoors or even a conservatory, getting more and more straggly then dying after a few weeks.

Don’t even bring under protection for the winter – they are 100% hardy.

What to do at the end of season

To be honest it just depends on how neat they want the head. If you want a very neat shape for winter then do a  final trim to desired shape just after leaf drop in very late November, Otherwise leave until late winter (the end of Feb) to either lightly trim to keep the existing shape, or hard-prune by 50-75% to create new style for the new season You can expect bud-burst to occur mid March.

Do I plant in Sun or shade?

Either! The only aspect the Willow Wand won’t tolerate is deep, permanent shade.

How often should I water?

EVERY day for the first few weeks until it is well established, and from then on always keep moist. If in a pot then stand it in a saucer and make sure that always has water in it, or better still, use a decorative container with an integral reservoir. If planted in the ground, again, water daily for the first few weeks and once established water well every week for the first season. It will then take care of itself unless there are drought conditions. It’s impossible to over-water willow – they even love waterlogged soil.

I’m going away on holiday and am concerned the wand in my pot will dry out. What do I do?

Sit the pot in a large bucket or tubtrug and almost immerse the whole pot in water. It is impossible to over-water willow – they even like water-logged conditions!

I’ve heard willows grow out of control?

Not these one – because you trim the topiary crown at least once per season they never get too big: the stem height remains fixed for life and you simply decide the shape and size of the crown.

But don’t willow roots cause damage to buildings?

No! even if planted in the ground, the ‘bonsai effect’ of trimming the tops of your Wand means the root run stays proportionate in size, so never get too big either.

I’ve lost loads of decorative plants in the winter – how hardy is my Willow Wand?

Unlike imported Mediterranean plants such as bay or olive trees, the Wands are made from English Willow grown right here in the UK by expert local growers and are fully hardy in even the worst of British weather – right down to minus 20C in fact.

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