Can I clip a piece of my downed willow and make a new willow?
Willows root pretty easily and you shouldn't even need any rooting hormone (many of these compounds are made from willow anyway). If the tree has been down for a short time, you should have no trouble rooting it as the stems will still be live for a period after it has fallen. If the tree fell due to disease, I would not root cuttings as that could be transfered to the new trees.
Take a cutting from new wood on the willow, about 8" long (new wood is a term for that season's growth). Leave only 2-3 leaves on it at the tip. At the base of the cutting, gently scrape off some bark on two sides of the stem. This will help roots to grow from that area.
Place the stem in a 4"-6" pot with moistened potting soil. I like to use a potting mix that is for seed starting. Cover the pot with a plastic bag to keep the humidity high. Place the covered pot in a partly sunny location (morning sun is best). Check the soil daily to see if it needs watering. Spray the soil with water as needed and put the bag back on the pot.
After 4-8 weeks, roots should begin to grow. You can check the drainage hole on the bottom to see if you see any roots growing or gently pull on the stem to see if you feel any resistance. If you do, then roots have started growing. Once you know roots are growing, removing the bag and continue to grow it in the pot until roots have filled up the pot. Transplant to a larger pot to grow for another year or so, before putting in the ground. I'd suggest taking more than one cutting in case some don't take root.
I also have another method you could try, but not sure if it will work in your situation. You can use a technique called layering. Simply take a stem, nick the stem with a knife and then bury the wound under soil while the stem is still attached to the tree. After 6-8 weeks you can cut the stem from the mother plant and dig up the cutting with new roots attached. You can usually have a larger plant this way as the stem is still getting support from the mother plant as the new tree is growing roots of it's own. Works great for all kinds of bushes too.
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