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to cut back or not

bueller

Moderator
John, I planted some dappled willow cuttings the last two years. Growth on my sand even with black plastic is slower than others experience. I know you told me to cut them back after the first year to stimulate new growth but I chickened out last spring. So now that I have one and two year olds growing what do you recommend as far as cutting them back or not? I feel like cutting some of the "weaker" ones but struggle with the thought of cutting back any that are now 2-3 foot tall. Will cutting the weaker ones be a death sentence for them?
 

John-W-WI

Administrator
Cut them!

I would cut everything down to about a foot tall, and the weaker branches off completely.

They will respond with a flush of growth you will love.

If you have some weaker plants, cut them back too. Fewer stems will help them concentrate their growth. The bigger they get, the bigger the root system. Very important in sand.

Keep weeds away from the plastic and feel free to feed them a little 12-12-12 or similar. Preferably right before a rain so you don't lose the N.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 

bueller

Moderator
Spraying the weeds along the outside of the black plastic is something that I have not done. I will do that this year.

Do you recommend just spreading fertilizer on top of the plastic?

It's going to be tough to cut my best ones back but I'll try to get myself in the mindset to do it, at least some of them. Can the weak ones be cut all the back to just the original cutting or would that be too much? The weakest only have 2 or 3 thin 6-8" shoots off of the main cutting.
 
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NWWI

5 year old buck +
Does the same apply to dogwood?
 

Bill

Administrator
Does the same apply to dogwood?

It does. And if it's ROD it may stimulate root suckering. Not sure on the other dogwoods because I've never tried those.
 

FarmerDan

5 year old buck +
Does the same apply to dogwood?

Well, yes that's the plant's response to injury (that's what you're doing when you clip and prune). Some plants respond better than others. There are several factors in play, but beware the size and condition of the plant you are treating. It takes a lot of energy in the form of stored plant food to regrow not only the lost food manufacturing capability but to generate even more! And where you cut plays a role as well. Willows have buds everywhere. Shearing causes little die-back to the next bud. Other species aren't as lucky. Point being, the die-back and plant response takes energy, too.
 

bueller

Moderator
I cut the heck out of my dappled willows today. Hope they respond well. I did leave a couple "as is" for comparison.
 

John-W-WI

Administrator
I cut the heck out of my dappled willows today. Hope they respond well. I did leave a couple "as is" for comparison.

You won't regret it.

I hope you are disappointed in the ones you left alone :emoji_stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
 
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