Willow is exceptionally easy to grow, and providing you follow the instructions you wand with establish quickly. This page gives further information in order to ensure that your Willow Wand continues to grow healthily.
There are 3 simple steps to success:
- The wands are made from living willow – pop them in a bag to keep them fresh on your way home
- Plant them immediately, firming in hard and watering very well
- Keep well-watered, and watch it magically grow a topiary crown!
Planting And Aftercare
Once you have bought your Willow Wand it needs to be planted quickly. However, if immediate planting isn’t possible, keep it in 10cm of water in a shady spot outdoors for a maximum of 3-4 days. You must plant your Willow Wand before the roots reach a length of 2cm.
You’ll notice a plastic tie at the bottom of the Wand, which must always be left on; removing it will allow The Willow Wand ® unfurl and you will lose the beautiful symmetrical woven effect. Don’t worry about the tie ‘strangling the plant’ – willow grows strongly and will graft around it.
The Willow Wand is intended for outdoor planting only, in any position from partial shade to full sun. It must be kept outdoors all year round. It is fully hardy, even in pots. It is able to withstand severe frost but it must not dry out even in winter, so ensure that cold winds and sun don’t dry the compost out if grown in a container. Placing the pot in a saucer helps to ensure that the compost always remains moist.
Water daily in warm weather and over-watering is unlikely to ever be a problem.
The Wand can be planted directly into your garden in normal garden soil approximately 15cm deep, depending on the size of Wand you purchased – slightly deeper for larger Wands, and slightly less for the smaller ones. Firm in very well to prevent wind-rock and then saturate immediately after planting.
For the first 3-4 weeks your Willow Wand will be extra thirsty so it will need watering daily unless there is heavy rain. After this period, water as required, depending on weather conditions, but for the first season ensure that the soil around the base of the stem is moist at all times.
Once established – from the second season onwards, your Wand should only need watering in dry summer conditions – but never let it dry out. Please keep a minimum 1 metre distance from walls and eaves to ensure your wand receives enough light and rain.
Roots are very unlikely to cause issues, as long as the topiary top is trimmed as per instructions.
The Willow Wand looks great in troughs, pots and containers, follow the same guidelines as with garden planting. Mixing the compost with a little loam-based (‘John Innes’) compost helps to retain moisture, and to firm the wand in very well at planting time.
Like all container-grown plants, it is absolutely essential that the compost remains moist at all times, so it is a good idea to place the container in a saucer and always ensure that the saucer is holding water. Better still, install a trickle irrigation system.
After about 2-3 months the Wand will have established a root system so at this point, begin feeding with a general-purpose fertiliser.
As the plant establishes, buds will start to develop up the entire length of the woven stem. The buds that sprout from the top section of the Wand – that is, above the decorative willow collar, should be left to grow and develop into top branches and so create the crown of the plant. Those that appear below the collar on the decorative stem should be rubbed off as they appear in the first season to maintain the woven effect. By the second season appearance of these buds will greatly diminish, then almost cease.
Ensure that at least one, preferably 2 buds, develop from the top of each individual stem. Should no buds initially develop above the collar, then allow at least one to remain and develop from just below the collar, to ensure viability of each stem until they have all grafted together. Trim the top branches at least twice the first season.
For a more dense, ‘topiary’ effect, trim the new growth by about half every few weeks through the season – as many as four times in the first year. This encourages more side shoots and so the crown will fill in.
For a looser crown effect, or to reach desired crown size sooner, the new growth can be just ‘tip-pruned’ once they are 15-20 cm in length.
It is essential to prune the crown at least once per season. Never cut into the willow rods that form the top of the main stem.
If the Wand is likely to be experience high winds in exposed sites, the crown should be trimmed more often for the first couple of seasons, until the main stem has grafted together and strengthened. In mid to late August you should trim the Wand for the last time before winter. Trimming later will encourage soft new growth late in the season, which is then more prone to die-back the following winter.
You can trim again in early spring, just before bud burst, to encourage side shoots and new growth.
Second and Subsequent Seasons
Important: The plastic tie beneath the decorative willow band at the top of the Wand must NOT be removed until the main stem has grafted together into one trunk. This normally takes two seasons, but if in any doubt, leave in place.
As mentioned, willow is strong growing and you find that it will grow round and over the tie rather than being strangled by it, so you may choose not ever to remove it. Removing it too early will result in The Willow Wand unfurling and losing its beautiful weave. If the decorative willow band covering the plastic tie deteriorates and you wish to replace it, simply use any thin length of living willow and wrap it carefully around the wand, securing with a ‘slip-knot’.
Remember that the stem height never increases – it is not possible to add some more weave to gain extra height. Over the years the trunk that has grafted together from the nine stems will increase slowly in diameter and lose its youthful colouring. However, it will gain a distinguished and arguably even more beautiful aged bark, whilst still retaining the stunning woven effect.
With regular but minimal care, The Willow Wand will remain the focal point of your garden, patio or terrace for many years to come. NOTE: Every Willow Wand is absolutely unique. Due to the use of natural material and the hand-crafted techniques involved, no two Wands are ever identical. Slight variations in size, colour of bark, markings and minor imperfections are all perfectly normal. Every single Willow Wand is individually inspected and leaves our workshops in pristine condition.
It is essential the guidance above is followed closely to ensure success, and especially important that there is minimal delay between purchase and either planting or temporarily storing in water, to ensure the living stems don’t dry out. Do not leave in original packaging, or in parked cars, etc, as temperatures can very rapidly increase and fatally damage the wand.
Depending on the season of planting, signs of growth should normally be apparent within 6 weeks from planting.
Pests and Diseases
The willow variety we use has been carefully selected as it has good resistance to pests and diseases, so it should be generally trouble-free. Aphids may become apparent in early summer around stem tips and leaf buds.
As described above, pinching out the growing tips is necessary to encourage side shoots, so often this removes sufficient aphids to prevent problems. If a more severe infestation occurs then spraying with a weak solution of washing up liquid, soft soap or pyrethrin will solve the issue. Caterpillars can also occasionally strip leaves or very rarely whole plants bare in summer months.
For light infestations of the small, bright caterpillars of the tortrix moth, simply pick off, but a more severe attack may require a pyrethrum spray. Bright red blisters on the leaves are caused by the blister mite; simply pinch the blister or pick the affected leaf off.
It is very rare for any of the above pests to affect the long-term health of the plant, especially if the suggestions above are followed.
We use a polymer gel to keep The Willow Wand hydrated in some situations
If you purchased your Willow Wand with a polythene bag around its base, that bag may contain a special gel to keep the Willow Wand fresh till you get it home.
Whilst this is completely harmless, it may cause minor skin irritation in a very few cases. Please wash your hands thoroughly after planting your wand, and dispose of the bag and gel responsibly.