Sunday, March 15, 2009


Willow rods are harvested during the plant's dormancy, between November and April during which time the bark sits tight on the rods.
When you coppice (cut off close to the ground) the willow plants they will throw long, straight rods without any branching, ideal for weaving and other willow works. Here is my first row of Salix 'Americana' with one year old rods after it's second year in the field.
I just harvested those yesterday and they delivered between 5 and 21 rods per plant, each rod being 120-180 cm in length.
When the willows are planted close together the shoots are competing for the sun and thus forced upwards. The first year after planting in the spring the number of shoots are limited and often they are quite branched too - that differs a lot depending of the variety. Over the next few years the rods will increase in both number and length and there will typically be less branching as well.
You can see the base of some of my 'Americana' here. Next year I should be able to harvest more and longer rods.
This year I cut my willows by hand with shears as I only have a small field. Now it looks like this. I'll be looking out for new shoots soon!!
More to come about my harvest soon!


  1. it looks like you will have a lot of material for your beautiful baskets, Salix! And the sky is so-o-o- blue!

  2. Black Willows here sprout up where they want to around our pond. They grow big then collapse with their own weight. never thought anyone would grow them as a crop. Thanks for this eye opening article.

  3. Growing the willow is a long term project, isn't it? I have also seen that some of the varieties grow quite branchy the first couple of years but then grow more useful unbranched withies as they get older.
    Still cutting! Steve

  4. Tatyana, I am currently expanding my willow field so practically all my willow rods are being cut up into pencil sized pieces to be planted in the field next month...More about that in a later post.

    Randy Emmitt, there are many reasons that willow can be grown as a crop. Basketry including furniture, crafts, cricket bat production, rustic (garden) furniture, charcoal, pulp for paper, living willow structures just to name a few. For the past few decades willow wood chips have also been used as a source for renewable energy and biofuels are being developed too.

    Steve,ha-ha, yeah very long term project. Often I feel very impatient. I planted my first 250 plants in 2007, added 1500 last year and this year everything is made into cuttings again. So by next year I can actually start experimenting with what I planned to do with the willow.

  5. I love the photo of your Salix integra . I wonder if they grow in the states. I found you on Blotanical. Wonderful blog you are sharing here. It is a pleasure to met you and I can't wait to see what spring will hold for your garden as I follow you along! Happy Gardening -Bren

  6. Bren, thank you for visiting. You being in US zone 5, I am sure that you can grow the dappled willow. I know that Bluestem Nursery in BC will mail cuttings to the US. Take a look at their web-site.


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