Weeping Willow Bonsai – Species Guide

Weeping Willow BonsaiWeeping Willow Bonsai

The weeping willow Bonsai is a dramatic tree that is both graceful and beautiful. Its delicate branches form pleasing lines and arches that are most conducive to the art of Bonsai and make it a very popular tree.

Maintenance of the willow Bonsai, however, is not for the faint of heart as weeping willows are fast growers and will require a high level of attention. These trees will need a lot of pruning and water, which can be excellent practice for a beginner, though this is not really the best tree for your first Bonsai.

Although a weeping willow can be a lot of work, they are among the most beautiful bonsai, and worth the effort.


The willow Bonsai should be placed in an outdoor area that receives abundant sunlight, but preferably not too much direct sunlight. The leaves of the willow Bonsai can be susceptible to burning if let in too much direct sunlight so on hot days or periods of extended heat it is best to place the tree somewhere where it will be sunlight in either the morning or afternoon, but if out of direct sun during the peak heat of midday.

Weeping willows do not copy well in freezing or frosty conditions, so in Winter they are best placed in a greenhouse to protect against the frost.

The weeping willow prefers warm temperatures and humidity, and should not be exposed to frost or freezing temperatures. The branches of the weeping willow can be brittle and delicate, therefore, they should not be placed in a windy area. The tree can be placed near bamboo or maple trees for an oriental effect, and will look great placed near other decorative elements, such as a Zen garden or stepping stones.

As a quick display tip, with the branches of the weeping willow tree flowing downwards these Bonsai trees should be displayed on a stand so the branches are free to flow down for full effect.

Willow Bonsai on standWatering

The weeping willow is a thirsty little tree. It should be watered frequently, as soon as the soil feels dry. You should not go more than two weeks without watering the willow Bonsai, but it is also critical not to over water, there should be adequate drainage. You may also keep it in a humidity tray all year. Weeping willows require a lot of water year round (most in the summer, least in the winter when the tree is dormant).

Although you usually see the weeping willow next to a river out in nature, don’t think that this means the roots can constantly be soaked in water. As with most Bonsai trees the weeping willow needs a lot of drainage to make sure you don’t get “root rot” – make sure the soil is damp, but not soaking. The Weeping Willow Bonsai can usually go up to two weeks without watering if it is an established tree.

It is pretty easy to tell if your weeping willow needs to be watered, as the branches will visibly droop if the tree is lacking moisture. Keep an eye one your weeping willow tree during the hot summer days to make sure it is in the shade and has enough water.


Pruning is one of the most important steps for keeping your weeping willow Bonsai beautiful. Weeping willows grow very quickly and require constant pruning. You will also need to cut growth back to the main branch every fall.

Wiring every branch of your weeping willow will keep it in shape. The wood on a weeping willow is pretty soft, so you should wire the willow loosely to avoid scarring.

The branches are flexible and will bend well without snapping, but because the willow is such a fast grower, you may need to move and adjust the wires frequently. It is best to be flexible with your design, since willows need to be cut back regularly.

Large Willow BonsaiRe-potting

Potting can be tricky with the weeping willow. A typical Bonsai tree grows about two inches a year; a willow Bonsai can grow up to a foot a month! Thus, they will need to be re-potted frequently and it is best to do so during warm weather seasons, but like most other trees not on  day that is too hot, as this will stress the tree.

You can re-pot a weeping willow tree yearly or even half-yearly in times of rapid growth. The root system of a weeping willow grows just a rapidly as the branches, so can quickly get cramped in a pot if not re-potted frequently.

Smaller varieties of the weeping willow, such as the corkscrew willow or the dwarf arctic willow, can be more conducive to a potting culture.

Using Akadama soil, an acidic soil, can slow down the fast growth of the weeping willow, which will allow for easier shaping of the bonsai.


It is best to take a cutting from a weeping willow in the spring; these cuttings will root the quickest. Snip a six-inch long, up to two-inch thick, green branch and remove all leaves from the last four inches. Clippings can be rooted in water or in moist soil. You can add a little bit of fertiliser (it should consist of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) to help your cutting take, but remember that they are rapid growers so you don’t need to overdo it with the fertiliser.

With the rapid growing nature of a weeping willow, it shouldn’t be too hard to take a successful cutting yourself. These trees just love to grow so with a few simple steps you can take a cutting and start your own tree.

You can cheat a little bit and buy an already established willow Bonsai, but with how easily you can take a cutting, and how quickly your Bonsai will grow, it is just as easy to start from scratch. As long as you dedicate the time to making sure your willow is watered and pruned regularly, you will have no problem creating a beautiful willow Bonsai of your own, from scratch.


One Response to “Weeping Willow Bonsai – Species Guide”

  1. Wolfy

    Jan 17. 2016

    Im from Wisconsin, weeping willow is a very common tree here and i have found the exact opposite, cuttings taken in winter while it has its dormant buds root 10x faster than those taken in summer, winter cuttings start to root in a few days, where summer cuttings of weeping willows take about a week or two to start rooting.

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