Dwarf Weeping Willow Tree: What to Know Before Planting (Full Guide)

Dwarf Weeping Willow Tree in oval frame with green background

When deciding to plant a dwarf weeping willow tree, there are some things to know about this species in order to ensure that your plant thrives and flourishes.

Dwarf plants are often the best option for small gardens, because despite its diminutive stature, it can be no less impressive than its bigger family members.

This complete guide explains Dwarf Weeping Willow tree planting options as well as how to identify these trees and where they grow.

Dwarf Weeping Willow Tree

(Salix Babylonica)

Dwarf Weeping Willow in oval frame with green background
  • Family: Salicaceae
  • Genus: Willow
  • Leaf: Linear, lanceolate, light green on the upper surface, and glaucous or grayish-green beneath
  • Bark: Grayish-brown or grayish-black with furrows
  • Seed: Cottony-like
  • Blossoms: Silvery-green and non-showy
  • Fruit: Dry, hard capsule
  • Native Habitat: Lakeshores and floodplains as well as along streams, swampy areas and on slopes
  • Height: 30 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
  • Canopy: Round; weeping
  • Type: Deciduous

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Data Deficient


Willow Trees, Weeping Trees, and Types of Weeping Willow Trees

Originating in China where it is a symbol of immortality and rebirth, there are approximately 420 types of willow trees in the world.

They are a part of the genus Salicaceae family, but only 100 of them emigrated to the United States centuries ago and have become culturally adopted as a native species as they have a tendency to hybridize.

Only about 40 of them grow to their full tree size of between 40-80 feet depending on local conditions, and it’s important to remember that all willows are not of the weeping variety.

The black willow, peachleaf willow, and the Pacific willow are just a few that appear as normal trees with normal heights, while others like the sandbar willow and the Bebb willow have a shrub-like appearance.

The weeping willow is an easily recognizable tree with its branches bowing wearily under the weight of its leaves that are more often than not brushing the ground as if the worries of the world were leaning heavily on it from above.

Wide photo of a weeping willow tree beside a castle along a river.

(Image: Calips30)

Many of them grow to heights of 10 ft plus, such as the weeping flowering apricot, the weeping Japanese maple, and even the weeping Pagoda can reach heights of 25 feet.

Most of these trees are deciduous and as the branches shrug off the leaves in winter, they have a brief respite where they can stretch skyward before the leaves bear down again and the yearly process is repeated.

Here is a brief overview of some types of willow trees, weeping willow trees, and dwarf weeping willow tree.1

Type of Willow TreeScientific NameHeight
White willowSalix alba80 feet
Black willowSalix nigra30-60 feet
Crack willowSalix fragilis82 feet
Corkscrew willowSalix matsudana30 feet
Pacific willowSalix lucida50 feet
Closeup shot of a White Willow tree showing its catkins with the sky in the background.

(Image: WikimediaImages31)

Type of Weeping WillowScientific NameHeight
Weeping willowSalix babylonica30-50 feet
Weeping BirchBetula pendula80 feet
Weeping Higam CherryPrunus subhirtella30 feet
Weeping Copper BeechFagus sylvatica ‘Pendula’15 feet
Weeping Eastern White PinePinus strobus ‘Pendula15 feet
Low-angle shot of a Weeping Birch tree showing its leaves and short rounded catkins.

(Image: Hans33)

Dwarf Weeping Trees & Weeping WillowsScientific NameHeight
Dwarf Weeping MulberryMorus alba ‘Chaparral’6 feet
Dwarf Weeping WillowSalix integra ‘Pendula Waterfall’5 feet
Dwarf Weeping Colorado SprucePicea pungens ‘The Blues’6 feet
Dwarf Purple Weeping WillowSalix purpurea ‘Nana5 feet
Dwarf Kilmarnock Weeping WillowSalix caprea5 feet

Kilmarnock Willow, the Dwarf Weeping Willow Tree: What To Know Before Planting

Also known as the pussy willow, the Kilmarnock willow species Salix caprea is the only one of the pussy willow varieties, of which there are three, Salix daphnoides (violet willow), Salix gracilistyla ‘Mount Aso’ (Japanese pink pussy willow), and the Salix hastata Wehrhahnii (halberd willow), that weeps.

Among weeping willow varieties, the Kilmarnock dwarf weeping willow tree is one of the most popular to be planted in lawns across the United States, not solely because it’s easy to plant and care for, but because of its splendid ornamental nature.

All types of weeping willow trees have catkins, a specific type of flower found on willow trees, birches, and chestnut trees. Fluffy and only a few inches long, they don’t at first appear to be flowers but they are integral to the trees’ reproduction process.

A catkin’s color can range from silver to pink, yellow, green, sky blue, and white and can even change color with the change of the season, as in the case of the Kilmarnock weeping willow.

The emergence of the fluffy blue-grey furry catkins is a precursor to the beginning of spring as they bloom into a bright yellow hue surrounded by dark green leaves, their undersides a contrasting silver-grey.

Close up photo of the hairy catkins with its cotton-like set of buds.

(Image: 0-0-0-034)

As an ornamental miniature tree, it is ideal to place in planters around a patio or along a walkway in the knowledge that it won’t get any bigger, but it will get a lot better as it fills out and, even though it’s generally set to one side, will take center stage sooner rather than later.

Desert Willow Tree and the Pink Willow Tree

The desert willow tree is unusual among willow trees as growing up in the blazing hot climate of the desert doesn’t bother it in the slightest.4 It can take the form of a shrub or a small tree with a height of up to 26 feet.

The pink willow tree couldn’t be more opposite, its flamboyant pink foliage requires more access to water and it is not as tolerant of consistently high temperatures.

Either of them would be a bonus in any yard, but one would demand more care and attention than the other.

Planting a Dwarf Weeping Willow Tree

Weeping willow trees are very hardy and can grow in the USDA Plant Hardiness Zones of 4 to 10, which means weeping willows can survive in temperatures from -30°F to 35°F, as long as the roots have access to enough water.

To plant the Kilmarnock Willow in ideal conditions, the soil needs to be slightly acidic and moist as willow trees thrive best near bodies of water that get a lot of sunlight.

That is not to say that they cannot do well in urban situations as dwarf weeping willow trees are very adaptive to their surroundings as long as the soil is kept moist with plenty of direct sunlight.

Planting a dwarf weeping willow tree around a home environment is appealing and practical on many levels and in small landscapes, a miniature tree can make a big impact, bringing a splash of color whether planted directly in the yard or seated in a large plant pot.

Knowing that the tree will not grow beyond 8 feet allows the homeowner the flexibility to place the tree in a wide variety of locations.

However, the placement and care for a dwarf weeping willow have to be considered as the roots can be somewhat invasive and become widespread.

If there is not a steady supply of water to the weeping willow tree roots they will take it upon themselves to go in search of it, and they have been known to disrupt electrical cables, damage underground water pipes, and even penetrate walls when thirsty.3

Essentially, therefore, one of the first considerations when deciding in which part of your lawn your newly purchased dwarf weeping willow tree is going to be situated has to be the soil suitability.

To ascertain if that perfect spot is as perfect as it needs to be, a simple method is to

dig slightly below the surface of the yard and do the squeeze test with a handful of the soil. If the earth clumps together or if any drops of water drip out, then you’re good to go.

If it’s as dry as a desert even as you dig deeper, then either another spot needs to be tested or an underground irrigation or sprinkler system needs to be installed. If that sounds like too much hard work then potting your dwarf weeping willow tree may be the only option.

A Dwarf Weeping Willow Tree: What To Know Before Planting (Full Guide)

There is quite a range of dwarf weeping willow trees that are between 6-8 feet that can survive in varied landscapes. Some require less daily sun exposure than others, but they all require access to a steady supply of water.

Dwarf Weeping WillowSizeUSDA ZoneRequirements
Dwarf Weeping Mulberry6 feet3 – 9Partial shade with well-draining soil
Dwarf Weeping Willow5 feet4 – 10Moist soil and good sunlight
Dwarf Purple Weeping Willow Tree6 feet4 – 7Water whenever the soil becomes dry and plant in full sun
Dwarf Purple Weeping Willow5 feet4 – 6Water daily during summer months and prune to control growth
Dwarf Kilmarnock Weeping Willow5 feet4 – 8Can thrive in permanently wet locations and needs fertilizing in spring
Weeping Dappled Willow6 feet4 – 9acidic to slightly alkaline soil that is well-drained and moist
Dwarf Dragon Willow Tree6 feet3 – 9Delicate and thirsty. Despite its small size, it requires constant hydration and pruning

It is important when planting a dwarf weeping willow tree if not starting from a seed or a cutting, to remove any turfgrass and any weeds from the sapling, before planting.

Step 1: Dig a hole twice as deep and wide as the root ball of the tree and then place it in the center of the hole after removing any covering or container that it may have been purchased in.7
Step 2: Cover the root with fertilized soil but only fill the hole about halfway and then water thoroughly. Continue filling the hole completely, tamping down as you go to expel any air bubbles.
Step 3: Finish by watering thoroughly.

When transplanting into pots, the willow will still need to be situated where it can take advantage of the sunlight and watering will either have to be done manually or on a watering system to prevent drying out.

Pruning would also have to be done on a yearly basis to encourage fresh growth. And this is especially important if you decide to go for the even more diminutive bonsai tree.

Before planting your dwarf weeping tree into its new earthy home in your garden where it will get the most attention, be aware that diseases such as willow blight, fungi, mildew, and root rot can be common problems. As can pests.

Aphids, borers, and gypsy moths are just some of the pests that may well need to be targeted by spraying with pesticides.

Bonsai Dwarf Weeping Willow Tree (How To Care for a Bonsai Tree)

Nurturing a bonsai dwarf weeping willow tree takes patience but is well worth the effort.

They can be started from cuttings from another weeping willow tree by trimming off any foliage and placing it in a container of water for a few weeks.

As soon as the roots start to appear, the soon tree-to-be can then be placed into a small pot of soil. Regular watering is crucial as the bonsai tree grows quickly and absorbs nutrients from the soil at a hectic rate.

Due to this fast-growing ability, soil fertilizer needs to be added every six weeks during this growing season, and a special potting mix used to support the root system.

Alternatively, liquid fertilizer can also be used but that would have to be applied more frequently every two weeks.

Every two days pruning has to be done to maintain the desired shape and size and wiring can be carefully used to get that traditional look of cascading leaves as the leaves have a tendency to want to shoot upwards to a greater height.

Knowing when and how to trim a bonsai tree will help immensely in curbing the tree’s natural instinct to grow bigger. Trimming the leaves sparingly but the branches strategically allow the tree to photosynthesize light more effectively and grow more quickly.

This is known as structural pruning, a technique used to suppress growth and guide the bonsai dwarf weeping willow tree into the desired architectured shape.

Pruning will also apply to the roots themselves and has to be done every year when the bonsai is being repotted. If this isn’t done the roots could exert undue pressure on the pot and possibly crack it as they expand.

Also, if the roots are not carefully pruned, managing the size of the bonsai tree would be a near-impossible task. This is essential, can not-be-overlooked component of teasing the bonsai tree into the desired ornamental shape as the roots can become stunted, which in turn will stunt the growth of the tree.

That may sound like a solution to your problems, as the tree’s growth will stutter, but this will invariably affect the health of the bonsai.

Re-pot regularly, prune the roots and the branches often, and your bonsai weeping willow tree will be a source of wonder for years to come.

Types of Bonsai Trees

Apart from weeping willows, bonsai trees can be cultivated from almost any tree species, but some of them are easier to manage than others.

Choosing the right one will depend on how much time and effort you wish to dedicate to your new hobby, and which type of bonsai tree is suitable for your state.

Dwarf weeping willow tree identification chart showing Dwarf weeping willow tree, leaves, flowers, bark, and seeds in a round frame on green background.

It takes years of pruning, trimming, watering, and repotting before a bonsai tree is finished, and some people say it is never finished, but it can be admired and appreciated along the journey.

If you’re a beginner to the world of bonsai, it can at first appear daunting and overwhelming. But if this pastime is approached in a step-by-step process, it can be as easy as one, two, or three.

First, look at what type of bonsai tree might appeal and fulfill your list of personal preferences. Maybe our list might help you somewhat in this crucial decision-making process.6

Apple Bonsai (Malus)

The bonsai of an apple tree is particularly well suited for beginners for ease of styling, and it is a particularly hardy outdoor bonsai tree.

Chinese Ash (Fraxinus sinensis)

Suitable for beginners and can be cultivated indoors.

Photo captured under the Chinese Ash tree with its dark green large leaves.

(Image: Diego Alex35)

Satsuki Azalea (Rhododendron indicum)

Easy to maintain and an impressive centerpiece when its pink flowers burst into full bloom in spring.

Chinese Pepper Bonsai (Zanthoxylum piperitum)

Beginner friendly, with unusual yellow wood with leaves that emit a sweet-peppery scent. Thrives well outdoors in the summer, then prefers to take shelter indoors in the winter.

Photo of the Chinese Pepper Bonsai Tree on a grassy field.

(Image: Ismoon36)

Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia)

A very hardy bonsai that can survive outdoors in winter, but needs fertilizing in the growing season so it absorbs sufficient nutrients.

Japanese Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata)

As the fruits develop, constant watering is required to prevent the roots from drying out, but be aware of root rot if the pot isn’t well draining.

Far photo of the Japanese Flowering Cherry planted inside a park with its distinctive pink leaves.

(Image: Myrabella37)

White Oak Bonsai (Quercus alba)

The mighty oak tree as a bonsai still has a stately appearance despite its diminutive stature. It still has a coarse, meaty trunk with thick branches and can withstand very high temperatures with minimal water requirements.

Cedar of Lebanon Bonsai (Cedrus libani)

The impressive canopy is accentuated by the small needle clusters that give this bonsai its unique appearance. But although a beauty to look at, it requires a level of expertise that makes them a challenge to maintain and style.

Close up photo of the fruit of Cedar of Lebanon Bonsai.

(Image: pictavio38)

Juniper Bonsai (Juniperus chinensis)

This bonsai has the traditional look of a bonsai tree and can be aggressively pruned to maintain its aesthetic appeal. Its needles of yellow, dark green, or pale green, mark them as perfect ornamental plants for outside patios.

Ginseng Ficus (Ficus retusa)

This small bonsai has big branches that support long leaves and aerial roots that form the intricate trunk. Actually needs a humid environment to grow so in winter months it has to be protected by sheltering indoors.

Japanese Maple Bonsai Tree (Acer palmatum)

Depending on the varieties or cultivation of the plants, there can be distinctive 5-pointed lobed leaves or more that range in color in the spring from yellowish to orange to a magnificent blazing red.2

This little bonsai requires a lot of watering and repotting every two years but is definitely worth the effort, especially when it is displayed as a focal point where its impressive color-changing features can be fully appreciated outdoors.

Japanese Red Pine (Pinus densiflora)

This bonsai tree attracts attention. With the proper care and structural pruning, this evergreen bonsai tree with its dark green needles forms various-sized canopies that appear layered. Protect them in winter and give them full sun in the summer and the Japanese Red Pine will amaze all year round.

The decision to either plant a dwarf weeping willow tree in your garden or pot an ornamental bonsai dwarf weeping willow tree to adorn your patio will require a certain level of commitment.

This dwarf weeping willow tree (what to know before planting – full guide) will help in selecting the right dwarf weeping willow or bonsai tree that, even though they are small in stature, will be big in creating a lasting effect.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dwarf Weeping Willow Tree

Are There Types of Bonsai Trees Indoor Friendly?

Only for short periods of time in the winter months if the weather is too harsh outside. Otherwise, bonsai dwarf weeping willow trees require too much sunlight for indoor use, and they will require a lot more attention and care.


Which Bonsai Tree Species Are Best for Beginners?

Because they tolerate over-pruning and pruning mistakes, Juniper and Chinese elm are great training bonsai.


How Long Do Bonsai Trees Live?

If properly cared for a bonsai tree can live for centuries.


When Should I Repot My Bonsai Tree?

If tendrils of the roots are poking through any drainage holes, it’s time to repot.


How Do I Repot My Bonsai Tree?

Gently scrape and brush all the dirt free and spray to moisten. Trim uniformly and then place in a new pot half-filled with fresh soil before covering fully.


Will a Weeping Willow Bonsai Live for a Long Time?

Unlike other types of bonsai trees, a dwarf weeping willow tree will only live for about 25 years because it is prone to becoming brittle with age and getting damaged from pest infestations.


How Far Should a Weeping Willow Be Planted From a House?

At least 50 feet away from any dwelling or structure is recommended to prevent the invasive roots from undermining any foundations.


How Did the Weeping Willow Get Its Name?

The name is derived from raindrops resembling tear drops as they fall from the branches.


Can You Grow a Dwarf Weeping Willow From a Twig?

Absolutely. Apart from seeds, a dwarf weeping willow tree can be reproduced from leaves, twigs, and cuttings.


Do Willow Trees Have Flowers?

Yes, they are called catkins and range in colors from yellow, red, and white, to purple.



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