Why plant Audubon® Native Black Willow Treeling?
Black Willow brings in the birds! If your property is home to a pond, creek, marsh, or even just a low spot that never dries out, consider planting a Black Willow to give neighborhood birds some sustenance. This fast-growing, moisture-loving tree is a bird food factory, hosting an incredible array of caterpillars and other avian favorites, such as beetles, aphids, and leafhoppers. These morsels supply valuable protein to songbirds and their rapidly growing nestlings. Attracted to the steady source of high-quality food, some birds may even nest in the branches and raise their families there!
A pioneer tree, Black Willow frequently appears on wet, sunny sites whenever bare soil is exposed. It quickly takes root, stabilizing riverbanks and providing wonderful wildlife habitat. This tree has held a variety of roles in human history. The lightweight wood does not make great lumber for building, but it has been used in manufacturing crates, wicker baskets, and artificial limbs. It has also been used to make charcoal for both gunpowder and artists’ pencils. Black Willow grows naturally all over the eastern United States and in scattered spots in the Southwest.
How to use Audubon® Native Black Willow Treeling in the landscape?
Black Willow is a magnificent butterfly tree! If they escape the birds, some of the caterpillars that feed on its foliage will become beautiful butterflies. Your tree may be a host to viceroys, red spotted purples, Lorquin’s admirals, mourning cloaks, and green commas. Some really stunning moths may make it to adulthood on your tree, too, such as the cecropia, the twin-spotted sphinx, and the big poplar sphinx.
Hardiness Zone: 3-8
How To Plant Audubon® Native Black Willow Treeling
Full sun and damp soil are the major requirements for Black Willow. This tree should be planted well away from manicured areas, as it has a tendency to drop limbs in high winds and ice storms. The root system is vigorous, so keep it away from any underground plumbing as well. Black Willow is a fast-growing but often short-lived tree (it has a lifespan of about 50 years). In that time, however, it can become quite large. The national record holder, in Minnesota, is 91 feet tall and has a trunk that’s over eight feet thick! Give it plenty of room.
How To Water
Water twice weekly for the first 3-5 weeks; then water weekly for the remainder of the year until winter. When you water, water very slowly and very thoroughly. The water needs to reach to the bottom of the root ball and that takes time. Watering needs may be altered due to extreme weather conditions.
How To Fertilize
Incorporate Elements Starter Plant Food granular form into the soil when planting. If planting in spring or summer, start fertilizing late fall using Elements Starter Plant Food granular form on an annual basis each fall. Continue this for the first three years to get your plant well established as it gives your tree the nutrients it needs to produce lush new growth for the following spring.
How To Prune
A young tree may need a little extra support to ensure that it lives a long and healthy life. Stake your new Treeling with a 6-8 foot tall wood or bamboo stake. Use expandable ties that will stretch as the tree grows, fastening the stake to the main trunk from the base to the top. Check the ties every few months, at least twice a year; ensuring the ties are not digging into the trunk. If there is any sign of this, take the tie off and reattach it, giving the tree more room to grow.
As your tree grows, remove a few of the lower branches each year in mid to late summer. Remove these lower branches before they reach 1/2 inch in diameter. It is better to make small cuts to avoid cutting a large, more mature branch - this is too stressful for the tree. Each year, make any corrective pruning needed, paying particular attention to removing damaged branches, rubbing branches, multiple leaders at the top, or suckers at the base. Limit any pruning to no more than 25% of the branching structure in a given year. Pruning benefits the tree and helps to achieve a balanced tree form.
After two or three years you can feel free to remove the stake from the tree.