Every spring for the last 5 years we have planted Corkscrew Willows along the banks of our creek and river. The featured picture show the stump of a Corkscrew Willow which we cut down 5 years ago. Every year the tree grows multiple suckers from the stump. This isn’t uncommon for trees and in Europe they do something like this called Pollarding and Coppicing. This would be most like coppicing. Both methods are used to continually harvest the suckers or juvenile shoots from the tree or stump. The more I read and learn about trees, the more I understand that it is the care and feeding of the roots that matter most in successful growth of trees. So the roots of this Corkscrew Willow in our yard are very strong and produce amazing juvenile shoots each year.
From the picture above you can see that some of the shoots are over an inch in diameter in just one year. So every spring I cut all of last year’s shoots off and take the bigger ones and just stick them in the ground to grow a new tree. My success has been limited by two factors – deer and weed competition. If there is a lot of weed competition the trees don’t grow very good. But in those cases where they do grow well most have been killed by deer rubbing them in the fall with their antlers. In fact it is amazing how the deer will hit every Corkscrew Willow in the area and leave other trees alone. It must be the vivid soft green bark, or maybe the contour of the tree that draws them.
So this year I am trying something new. Because the shoots are free for the cutting I have never protected them like other trees I have planted. For this spring I am using some old Blue-X tree tubes which I had poor results with when using with small seedlings. I think the problem was lack of ventilation inside the tube. I now use ventilated Tree Pro tubes and they work well with seedlings. But back to the Corkscrew Willows. In the picture above you can see the Willow shoot, Blue-X tree tube and an old Willow rubbed by a deer last fall. (with a foot long ruler for perspective).
Now I just put the tube over the trunk of the shoot (from the bottom up) and push it into the soft spring ground. I hope that this will protect the tree from rubs in the fall. It will also protect the tree from weed killer if I decide to spray around the tree to kill the competing weeds. The above picture shows a finished planted tree. We will see next spring how this experiment worked. Note that I didn’t put a stake along the tube to hold it and the tree up. I feel that the tree/shoot is strong enough to stay upright along with the tube.