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Corkscrew/Twisted Willow Sapling Trees

Salix babylonica pekinensis TortuosaPlant guarantee for 1 yearFeefo logo

The details

Salix babylonica tortuosa

Sapling Trees
  • Chinese. Corkscrew branches. Loves wet sites.
  • Sizes: Saplings only.
  • Good screening tree, ornamental in winter.
  • Max. Height: 9-15m
  • Bareroot Delivery Only: Nov-Mar.
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£ 4.38

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Salix babylonica / matsudana Tortuosa Saplings. Dragon's Claw Willow

Delivered by Mail Order Direct from our Nursery with a Year Guarantee

Corkscrew Willow, Salix babylonica Tortuosa, is an unmistakable plant with weeping branches and the famous corkscrew-like young stems. These curl around in uneven spirals, producing wavy, contorted leaves. It is a small to medium-sized tree and very ornamental in winter, when the bare branches are fully visible. The young shoots are famous for use in flower arrangements. They both look great and last for ages because they put out roots in the vase and carry on growing! Corkscrew Willow can be grown as a screening tree up to about 8 metres high. 

See our selection of willow trees or our full range of hedging.

Corkscrew Willow trees are only delivered bareroot, during winter (Nov-March).
All of our young trees and shrubs are measured by their height in centimetres above the ground (the roots aren't measured).

Did You Know? 

Although this is a Chinese tree, the name Salix matsudana comes from the Japanese botanist Sadahisa Matsudo (1857-1921). He compiled the first modern books on Chinese plants in the late 1800s. It is a famous subject for bonsai. 

This popular Willow is known by many epithets worldwide, including: Corkscrew, Twisted, Curly, Chinese, Peking, Babylon, Navajo, Globe, Hankow, and Dragon's Claw.

Planting Instructions

Notes on planting Corkscrew Willow:
They love wet ground and won't tolerate chalk or shade.
The ideal spot for your trees is right beside a river or lake and they will do well in sodden, marshy ground.
Reports on its hardiness indicate that twisted willow trees might not live as long in the North as they do in the South, but they are certainly hardy enough to grow in cold regions.

Willows are generally a favourite target for honey fungus and we don't recommend this tree if you have had problems with this in the past.

Prepare your site before planting:
It is good to dig over the area where you intend to plant several months in advance. Destroy the weeds first. Then dig the soil over; remove rocks, roots and other rubbish. Mix in well rotted compost or manure down to the depth of about 2 spades.
If you have a heavy clay soil, it might be too difficult to dig over for most of the year. Heavy clay is fertile soil, so you don't really need to improve it; killing the weeds is still necessary.

Remember to water establishing plants during dry weather for at least a year after planting.

Planting accessories:
Prepare your site for planting by killing the weeds and grass with Neudorff WeedFree Plus.
If you are planting in an area with rabbit and/or deer, you will need to use a protective plastic spiral for each plant, supported by a bamboo cane.
If your soil quality is poor, we recommend using mycorrhizal "friendly fungi" on the roots of new trees and shrubs.
You can also improve your soil with bonemeal organic fertiliser and Growmore.

After Care

After you plant your Corkscrew Willow trees, the most important thing to do is water them in dry weather. You will also need to weed around the plants. Both of these will be necessary for at least a year after planting.
Water thoroughly but not too often: let the soil get close to drying out before watering your plants again.

Special notes on caring for Corkscrew Willow:
Corkscrew Willow is a very tough plant that shouldn't need special attention once it has established. If pruning is necessary, it is best do it in winter. Always hire a tree surgeon to remove large branches.

Propagating Salix matsudana:
It should be pointed out that these are naturally short lived trees: they are a pioneer species which take advantage of areas cleared by storms.
Apart from spreading by seed, their tactic for doing this is to be broken apart in the storm and regrow from scattered branches.
Their fragile structure is also susceptible to cankers and most trees succumb in about 50 years or so.

If you have an older tree that is on its way out, there is not much point spending money trying to save it.
The good news is that there are few trees which are quite as easy to propagate: simply take a cutting of the last season's growth between November and February and stick it into the ground. Putting it in the right way up is advised, but not essential!

Surrounding it with a thick layer of mulch will keep the weeds from competing with it for its first year, after which it should grow away swiftly.

Hygiene & Diseases:
Dead, damaged or diseased wood can be pruned off as soon as it appears.
Disinfect your pruning tools between every cut if there is any sign of disease.
Burn or dispose of any diseased material, do not compost it.