Saturday, June 19, 2010

"Dwarf" Artic willow

Salix purpurea 'Nana'
Did any of you fall for the lovely dwarf arctic willow, and plant it in your residential lot?
This has got to be one of the most mis-labeled shrubs on the market today.  I've seen growers labels that indicate it stays as small as 4' x 4'.  Even large, reputable nurseries have this listed at this size.  Well, as you know if you planted this in a tight spot, it is anything but dwarf.  I've seen it get to 10' tall by 12 ' wide here in our area, before the overwhelmed homeowners finally take it out.  It can grow 4' in one year! 

The picture above is in the test garden, where as you can see, it is has way exceeded the stated size.  And it's been pruned way back several times.  It is a very lovely shrub, but be forewarned to plant it only where you have sufficient room.  It can work in a normal site if you want to whack it back to the ground every 3 years or so.  And if you have a large space you need to fill quickly, by all means plant it, or better yet take your neighbors when they remove it from their too-small spot!

And this is a formal apology to any and all past friends and customers for whom I enthusiastically planted this shrub, and who had to then remove it three years later.  I'm sorry!  It just shows that we professionals learn by experience just like everyone else.  Hey, that's why we have a test garden.  Because the shrubs don't pay any attention to what is printed on tags........

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