PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Flame Willow (Salix sp. ‘Flame’)

We really love Willows here. For a lot of reasons. We use them as a fast growing screening & privacy plant, as a distinctive specimen plant in the landscape, and as a renewable source of material for baskets and decor.

Of the dozens of willow species, Flame Willow is one of our top picks. The name refers to the brilliant red, coral, orange, and gold branches whose color intensifies as weather gets colder. Leafless in the winter, it is stunning with a backdrop of snow, or in the PNW, a backdrop of grey shades.. We think the name is also a nice reference to the graceful taller-than-wide flame shape it grows into. It wants to be a multi-stemmed, bushy tree full to the ground but we like to prune off the lower branches several feet off the ground to make it lighter looking. It can grow to 15-20 tall – perfect for planting under utility lines. You can prune it to be a low shrub or hedge if you wish.

Historically, Willows were used for animal fodder because you can repeatedly cut a willow to the ground and it will send up dozens of new tender shoots that are edible for livestock. This same procedure, called coppicing, has been used for millennia and is used today to produce tender, flexible, new branches for basket making. You might have heard the terms ‘coppice’ and ‘pollard’. They both have the same results – coppicing is cutting the plant lower to the ground, pollarding is cutting major branches higher off the ground.