French Pussy Willow Tree (Salix caprea)

French Pussy Willow Tree

  • Gray, Pink and Green Catkins
  • Fabulous Early Spring Display
  • Include Branches in Cut Arrangements and Outdoor Containers
  • Force Branches Indoors in Winter
  • Must-Have Backdrop for Cutting Gardens
  • Fast-Growing Screening Tree
  • Thrives in Wet Spots in Your Garden
  • This Variety Also Tolerates Drier Sites Than Others
  • Tolerates Juglone from Black Walnut Trees
  • Easy Care, Adaptable and Versatile

Perhaps you’ve loved the tender look of these memorable flower buds since you were a small child. After all, the fine texture of tightly clasped pussy willows capture the imagination with ease!

Now that you are grown up, make a decision to decorate your life with the classic harbinger of spring. Delightful French Pussy Willow tree (Salix caprea) produces sweetly fuzzy catkins along the length of the dainty branches in late winter and early spring.

Use these easy trees, and you’ll have a sure sign that spring is around the corner. No other garden site is quite so welcome.

Add with a few Forsythia bushes for a special springtime feature in your landscape. You’ll have plenty of material on hand for cut flower arrangements.

The large, fuzzy, silvery buds can be cut and forced indoors in late winter. You’ll appreciate their delicate beauty!

Pussy Willow branches in bud are often sold for high prices. Why not bundle and sell your own Pussy Willow material to local shops? Use several along your fence line and start a fun little cottage business.

In no time, you’ll enjoy a beautiful, graceful tree. Enjoy filling your vases and outdoor containers with armloads of Pussy Willows.

Like all Willows, our French Pussy Willow trees thrive near water. This particular variety also tolerates sites with well-drained soil if they receive enough water.

French Pussy Willow trees grow with a dreamy form and wavy-edged leaves that flutter in the slightest breeze. They make good screening plants, and can easily help you create a private paradise in your landscape.

How to Use French Pussy Willow Tree in the Landscape

This is a versatile tree that can be used for many garden applications. You’ll find many ways to use it in your landscape.

Use a single tree as a lawn specimen plant in a large mulched bed. Underplant around the tree with flowering and fall color shrubs like Sweetspire; along with hundreds of spring-flowering bulbs for a wonderful display.

Create a Rain Garden in a low spot and use French Pussy Willow to anchor your planting. Include moisture-loving plants like Swamp Milkweed, Hardy Hibiscus and Rushes.

Consider this a small-scale replacement for Weeping Willow. It looks incredible reflected in water from a pond or water feature.

Add as a privacy screen or free-flowing hedge. Create a fast solid hedge by planting them 5 feet apart on center. Measure from the center of one to the center of the next, and they’ll grow together and touch.

Use this same idea to create walls of an outdoor Garden Room. Wouldn’t you love to have a restful getaway spot in your space? Add a platform for Yoga, or a cozy glider for reading.

These easy-care trees can provide shade and screening for a Children’s Garden. Be sure to tell them the legend of how the Pussy Willow gets its name.

As the story goes…long ago, a mother cat was crying at the bank of the river. Her kittens had been chasing butterflies and had fallen in the water and were unable to swim.

The Willows at the river’s edge longed to help her, so they swept their long graceful branches into the waters to rescue the tiny kittens. The kittens gripped on so tightly to their branches that every spring the Willows sprout tiny, furry buds at their tips where the tiny kittens clung to safety.

Tips for Care

French Pussy Willow tree flowers best in full sun, but will tolerate partial or light shade. Ensure it receives at least 4 hours of sunlight a day.

It adapts to most soil types, including wet soils. Provide a moderate amount of water on a regular basis. Apply a 3-inch layer of mulch around the tree, pulling it back from the trunk.

In early spring, it’s time to harvest your catkins. Select a few of the thickest branches to remove completely back to the main trunk.

Willows are very forgiving of pruning. You can use them as shrubs, if you allow the lower branches to remain. Prune them up as a single leader tree-form, if you choose. Or, control the height by trimming all the branches back to the ground after flowering.

To force branches in winter, select a few of the interior branches and trim them back in late winter. Make your cuts at a 45–degree angle just above a swelling bud that faces outward.

Bring them indoors and place in a vase filled with warm water. Change water daily, and watch as the buds start to swell into those beloved “fussies”.

French Pussy Willow Tree (Salix caprea) Details

Common name French Pussy Willow Tree
Botanical name Salix caprea
Hardiness zone 4-8
Growth rate Fast
Height 12 - 25 ft.
Width 12 - 15 ft.
Sunlight Full Sun, Partial Shade
Moisture Medium
Soil condition Widely Adaptable
Pollinator-friendly Yes
Pruning time After Flowering
Flower color Gray, Pink, Green