I have a weeping willow tree that is about 1 foot tall right now and I want to know how long I can leave it in a pot and what size pot it needs. It currently is in a 1 gallon nursery pot. I would appreciate advice.
Hardiness Zone: 5a
Sue from Centralia, WA
Unless you plan on keeping your willow as a container tree for a few years, I wouldn't put off transplanting it in the ground for too long. A 1 gallon container is small for the fast growing roots of a weeping willow. You can move it into a larger container for now if you plan on keeping it as a balcony or patio container for another 2 to 3 years, but otherwise it's best to transplant in the ground as soon as possible. When sizing up in containers, it's generally accepted that a vertical growing plant needs transplanting when it reaches twice the height of the container it's growing in. If you plan to keep on potting up, keep in mind that you risk loosing your tree from transplant shock every time you move it to a new pot. If you transplant it into the ground, it only has to suffer through this shock once. Of course, with the proper root pruning (like in bonsai trees), even large trees can last for many years in smaller containers. Root pruning is pretty labor intensive, however, especially as trees grow larger. If left in a small container too long, your tree will eventually start showing signs of being pot bound. Then even with the proper light, water and fertilization the leaves will be small and it will show a general loss of vigor.
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weeping willows have a HUGE root structure. I don't advise replanting near your home. they invade pipes and sewers. I'd keep it in the pot as long as possible. Maybe it will retard the root growth and allow you to enjoy it safely.
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