The twisted willow tree (Salix matsudana Tortuosa) is a large, aesthetically pleasing tree that’s prized for its characteristic twisting and winding branches. When grown in a large yard, it will add a new sense of style to the atmosphere, enhancing the landscape with a unique look that’s not found in other trees. But if you’re planning to grow twisted willow in your yard, there are a few things you need to know about caring for this specimen.
Twisted Willows Have a Short Lifespan
First and foremost, it’s important to note that the twisted willow has a relatively short lifespan when compared to other trees, with most specimens dying around the age of 10 years. If you’re looking to grow a tree that lasts decades or even generations, it’s best to avoid the twisted willow for this reason. Sure, some specimens may reach 15 or even 20 years, but the majority of twisted willows fail to see their 10th birthday.
Watering a Twisted Willow
Like all trees, the twisted willow needs water to survive. Many homeowners assume that rain is sufficient in keeping their twisted willow hydrated and protected from the dangerous of dehydration, but this isn’t necessarily true. The average twisted willow needs a minimum of one inch of water per week. So if you’re experiencing a drought or minor dry spell, you may want to install a sprinkler nearby to help supplement it with much-needed H2O.
Although twisted willows need water to thrive, too much water will have the opposite effect by leaving the tree susceptible to disease and illness. This is why it’s important that your twisted willow has proper runoff, with water running away from the tree instead of accumulating around the base of the trunk. If water pools up at the trunk, it will continue to seep down into the roots, eventually causing the roots to become waterlogged. This can lead to root rot, decay, and mold growth, all of which can prove fatal to an otherwise healthy twisted willow.
Give it Plenty of Room
Don’t make the mistake of trying to grow a twisted willow next to a deck, driveway, sidewalk, or any other structure. Because these trees have large, fast-growing roots, they may damage nearby structures. When choosing a location to grow your twisted willow, make sure it has plenty of space in all directions.
The Woodsman Company offers tree planting, tree pruning and shrub trimming, tree removal and stump grinding as well as a tree wellness program.
If we can help with any of your tree care needs give us a call at 512-846-2535 or 512-940-0799 or
Dee Francis says
I love twisted willow trees, so I would like to plant one in my yard. These tips will come in handy this year so that I can take good care of my new tree. It seems important for me to know how water runoff can affect my tree. I’ll watch out for this so that it gets enough water, but not too much so that I can prevent it from getting sick.
I see Walmart is selling Corkscrew Willows and it says they are hardy for Zone 3. Is North Dakota in Zone 3 or Zone 4?
Ken Partain says
Hi Eileen. Here’s a tool that will help you determine what Plant Hardiness Zone you are in – http://garden.org/nga/zipzone/
Haley Perry says
I have a juvenile twisted willow tree that I started from a friend’s. And it was doing great until a couple weeks ago when the leaves started taking on brown spots and looking dry. Now some are starting to fall off all together.
I backed off on watering. I’ve only been doing that every couple days. For fear of root rot. I also sprayed with a 3 in 1 pesticide for bugs and disease that is safe for trees and plants (purchased at Lowe’s).
Not quite sure what’s up with my little dude, but I’d sure appreciate any helpful tips. I’m hoping I can raise him up into all his beautiful twisted glory.
Ken Partain says
Hi Haley. Thanks for reading. You don’t say whether your twisted willow is planted in the ground or is in a pot.
If it’s in a pot you have to be much more careful with watering since the pot will likely dry out sooner, especially during the summer months. The Twisted Willow’s roots also grow very rapidly, which can require replanting into a larger pot, more often than you would probably like.
If it’s planted in the ground I would recommend you have a local arborist come out and take a look at it. Hopefully, they will be able to give you some more pointed advice for your specific situation.
If you’re in our service area just give us a call and we’ll come out and take a look for you.
Hello Hayley the same is happening to mine which is in the ground – did you manage to sort the problem?
Norma Barnett says
I just bought a twisted willow and was wondering about pruning. limbs right now are rather tall and kind of straight.
Ken Partain says
Hi Norma. Thanks for reading. I spoke with our in-house Arborist and here is his reply to your question. “Pruning methods should be done according to the type of tree and your local climate. To briefly answer your question, a Corkscrew Willow should be pruned preferably in the dormant season. Start by eliminating dead or diseased wood than move to basic canopy raise or structure clearance. My advice is to look up pruning techniques in your area or hire a local Arborist. Thanks.”
Ive had my twisted willow for years. Very low maintenance. Looks beautiful. But only about 6 to 7 feet tall. So I’m very happy. Everyone that is in my yard asks what kind of tree is that. I get so many compliments.
Hayley Griffiths says
My twisted willow keeps shooting up straight bits, is this normal.
Ken Partain says
Hi Hayley. Thanks for reading. I have never personally owned a Twisted Willow but it is possible that new shoots can be straight.
Is a twisted willow and a corkscrew willow one in the same?My willow grows with my branches twisting around each other and growing up not out also these long skinny branches become bare and they go dormant until summer then they grow fast all the way to the ground.
Ken Partain says
Hi Barbara. Yes, a twisted willow and a corkscrew willow are essentially the same thing.
jorge maldonado says
I recently purchased a healthy and beautiful 6 ft. corkscrew willow. I noticed today some dry branches sprouting from the healthy ones. What could it be? Is this normal?
Thank you in advance
Kafa Green says
Just moved into a property with a beautiful twisted willow tree nearly the size of my 3 story house hopefully got a few more years in it left
My husband pruned our 4yr old corkscrew tree yesterday and after looked great as usual. This morning the same and then 5pm today the leaves seemed to look shriveled, dying, no life in them. He suspected a poisoning (?).. Our two other ones are healthy like the first one that was most vibrant but now suddenly lifeless. What could cause that? All three are planted in the ground.