Salix chaenomeloides ‘Mt Aso’

Salix chaenomeloides ‘Mt Aso’

Even though the sun was shining today, I was still feeling discouraged by yesterday’s snowfall. As I went out to make sure all the greenhouses were properly closed for the day I caught a glimpse of pink, shimmering in the late afternoon light. Greeting me with optimistic charm was the pink pussy willow Salix chaenomeloides ‘Mt Aso’ . I had planted one last fall, and it was set off quite dramatically by the freshly fallen snow.

Salix chaenomeloides is the Latin name for giant pussy willow. It is native to Japan but adapts well to a wide range of garden situations including sandy, average and even quite moist soil. Plants can get quite large, 15′ or more, but in order to have a steady supply of branches which will bear the rosy red catkins (which are male flowers by the way, are you surprised?) you should coppice (cut back to 1-2′ above ground) every 2 or 3 years. This will keep plant size a more reasonable 6-8′, and provide you with an ample supply of cut branches for winter arrangements

Salix chaenomeloides ‘Mt Aso’ is hardy to zone 4. You know you want one. Go for it. I guarantee that if you plant  ‘Mt. Aso’ this year, you’ll be smiling next March, even if “return to winter” weather tends to make you grumpy.

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6 thoughts on “Salix chaenomeloides ‘Mt Aso’”

  1. oh yeah. Everyone totally wants one. Because witch hazels and hellebore shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden of February/March color alone. And male pussies? Please. I’m blushing! – This plant makes March worth it.

  2. Kathy, you are right- I do want one for NJ and since zone 4 hardy, some for the
    Adirondacks. Are they somewhat deer resistant? Can they tolerate
    Occasional wet feet? I ‘ll be working on a zone four woodland garden
    this year and will need deer resistant, wet tolerant plants. Shall I call for recommendations?
    Jane…..crescent garden design

  3. Jane, Wet feet shouldn’t be a problem. Deer will eat almost anything when they are hungry, but this willow is not on their preferred list.

  4. Mt Aso is occasionally nibbled, but only the tips above the flower buds. Salix purpurea is so bitter that deer never eat it, making it perfect for hedges and fedges–a fence woven with live willow rods that grow into a living fence.

  5. Michael, Thanks for the tip about the tips being tasty. I love your selection of willows, and want to visit your nursery soon.

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