Moving a dappled willow tree


I have two dappled willow trees that were planted 2 years ago. Now that I feel they are too close together and wonder if it’s still possible to move one of them. They are the dappled willow shrubs that were crafted onto a tree stem. The stems are 1 metre high now, and the branches are about 3-5 feet long. They grew fast this year. I don’t know how extensive their root systems have grown so far. Certainly don’t want to damage or kill them while transplanting. I’d like to hear from experienced gardeners whether it’s ok to move one of them. Thanks!


You should be able to successfully move one of the lovely trees.

There are different cultivars of Salix integra ‘Hakuro-nishiki’ (dappled  willow).  Dappled willows can be shrubs or trees.  As trees, they are grafted to rootstock, which is usually an upright willow trunk.  The trees should be planted at least 1.8 metres (6 feet) apart.

The best time to move the willow is when it is dormant, in late fall or early spring.  Prepare the new planting site. Dig a hole that is as deep as the root system, and 2-3 times wider.  Loosen the soil inside the hole, to enable the roots to easily penetrate and grow.  Fill the planting hole with water and let it drain before placing the tree in the hole.

When digging up the tree from its current location, use a sharp shovel or trowel to cut around where the root ball is located.   Transplanting does result in stress to the plant, and you’ll likely end up removing a good number of roots.  The sharp instrument should ensure you cut through the roots as cleanly as possible, preventing additional damage that could lead to increased susceptibility to diseases and infection.  Use your fingers to lightly loosen the outer roots of the rootball.

Plant the tree in the hole, with the roots at the same level as in the original spot (not deeper as this could affect the tree’s health).  Backfill the hole with the native soil. Water it well and gently pack down the soil with your hands, in order to prevent air pockets.  Add more soil if needed.   Spread 5-7.5 cm (2-3 inches) of organic mulch around the base of the tree (don’t apply mulch around the tree trunk in a mound – keep mulch away from the trunk itself). There is no need to fertilize the tree, this can be started once the growing season starts.

Once the growing season arrives, make sure to deeply water the tree at least every couple of weeks, as it’s important not to let it dry out, which would stress the root system even more.

All the best with your beautiful tree.