The corkscrew willow, known also by its scientific name, Salix matsudana tortuosa, is easy to grow and care for, as long as the soil around it is kept moist and well-drained. For this reason, willow trees, including the corkscrew willow, grow well and stay healthy on the banks of ponds, lakes, creeks and rivers. When the tree sapling is young, it needs to be protected from getting too much sun. Once it is an established healthy young tree, it can be moved into almost full sun so it gets the light it needs.
The corkscrew willow tree grows quickly, as much as six feet a year. Even though it grows so fast, pruning isn’t necessary unless the tree’s branches become diseased or damaged by the elements. If you do find it necessary to prune the corkscrew willow, it is best to do it in late summer or early fall, which is not the typical season recommended for pruning trees. The reason for pruning in late summer/early fall is so the pruning cuts don’t cause the tree’s sap to run.
Don’t prune extensively because that could encourage new growth. New growth that late in the growing season would be too fragile to make it through a hard winter, depending upon what growing zone you live in. To prune, make clean cuts at a 45-degree angle. Do not cut too close to the trunk of the tree. Pruning may be a little trickier on the corkscrew willow since its branches are twisted and contorted, which gives the tree its name.
The corkscrew likes almost any type of soil, ranging from mostly sandy to mostly clay soil, with pH ranging from 4.5 to 8.5, as long as it is well-drained and moist. It can survive light drought conditions, but prefers the soil to remain moist to wet.
Do not plant the tree near septic , water and sewer areas because of the shallow growth of the root system, which will be drawn to the water in the septic system and could cause major problems. The tree should also not be planted near paved surfaces because the roots, which grow upward as the tree ages, could cause the asphalt to buckle.
Because the corkscrew willow grows so fast, pests can attack the tree while the branches are still fleshy and not yet hardened. It’s a good idea to check on a young corkscrew willow daily. If the tree is constantly kept watered, fertilized and the soil is well-drained, the tree will not have a chance to become weakened. Diseases are much less likely to attack and develop if the tree is hardy. Even if a disease does start to form, it will be caught early enough to stop the development of further damage. Diseases to watch for are fungus, willow scab, black cancker and crown gall.
Pests to watch for are aphids, gypsy moths, willow leaf beetles and lace bugs. If any of these or other pests are detected, contact a good nursery in your growing region for recommendations for the best treatment in your area.