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I Have A Small Potted Pussy Willow (about 1 Foot…

Jenn Asked

I have a small potted pussy willow (about 1 foot tall) I bought in Manhattan about two months ago. It was healthy when I bought it, the buds had pollen on them, and the branches were still limber. It started to sprout new growth after a couple weeks, then I gave it some plant food and within a week the new growth died and now the branches are starting to dry out. I water it often, and it gets plenty of sun. I thought if I put it in a larger pot that it might help, but I’ve seen no change. I scratched the trunk of it with my nail and it’s still green, but all the branches have dried out. I have no idea how to save this tree. I would hate to lose it. Any advice you can give me would be awesome!

The Gardener’s Answer

Hi, Jenn: It is difficult to say what is happening with your willow not being able to see it, but here are some thoughts. Anytime we bring a new plant home we want to make sure it is happy, and sometimes we give them too much attention. There is always a certain amount of stress on a plant when it is moved from one environment to another, and since you bought it in Manhattan I would suspect it was shipped, usually on a truck from the grower to the garden center where you purchased it. This means it has done a bit of traveling as a young plant. It is probably just adjusting to its new home. It is best not to fertilize new plants for the first year. Not knowing what it has been given recently in terms of food makes the potential of over-feeding a possibility and this will do more harm than good. When we re-pot, it is always best to only bump up the size of the container a couple of inches. Although willows are water lovers, the container must have drain holes so that the roots are not subject to standing water. Make sure you used a good container mix potting soil and not topsoil. The good news is that these plants are really tough and it is a positive sign that the cambium layer is still green. You will want to remove the growth that is brittle with no foliage. It should put on some new growth but avoid fertilizing. These willows belong to the Salix genus and prefer to be grown in full sun (at least six hours each day) and they are adaptable to most soil conditions as long as they receive enough moisture.

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