I do not have a garden to plant my potted braided willow. I purchased in the spring and have had it in a decorative pot on my deck. I would like to know what I should do to protect this plant during our winter. I am not a resident of Toronto but I live in London Ontario. Winter conditions are the same. I will click the confirmation box to enable this to come to you.
Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners. What a timely question as winter approaches. We received a similar question earlier this month from another gardener with a potted braided willow (salix). The best approach, as mentioned in the link, is to plant the braided willow in the ground. The roots, although very hardy, may experience frost damage if left above ground in a pot.
As you don’t have a garden where you can plant your braided willow in the ground, I recommend you follow the advice for overwintering ornamental trees in pots. I have a similar plant, a dwarf weeping pussy willow (salix caprea ‘pendula’), that I successfully overwintered last year using a similar approach.
- I inserted my potted dwarf willow into a larger pot (pot within a pot) that was lined with leaves and pine needles (insulation). The lining was 5 cm thick on the bottom and sides of the pot, as this was the space between the 2 pot sizes. The greater the insulation layer, the more protection for the plant’s roots. You can also use bubble wrap, Styrofoam, or straw for the insulation. I used a thick plastic pot to ensure it didn’t crack in the freezing temperatures.
- I placed the insulated pot in a corner on my deck (next to the house) that is shady and protected from strong winter winds.
- Next, I covered the branches of my willow with additional leaves, using burlap to keep the leaves in place.
Additional advice on container gardening can be found in: Container Gardening: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide
Good luck with your potted braided willow this winter!