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What to Plant Under a Willow Tree: The Ultimate Guide

Dr Ahsanur Rahman, PHD

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Ideal plants to grow under a willow tree include shade-loving options like ferns, hostas, and wildflowers, as well as moisture-loving perennials like astilbes, irises, and Japanese primroses.

Planting under a willow tree can be a bit challenging due to its extensive roots and dense canopy. However, with the right selection of plants, you can create a beautiful and thriving garden space. In this blog post, we will explore the best plants to consider planting under a willow tree, backed by factual data and expert recommendations. Whether you’re looking for groundcovers, shrubs, or flowers, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s dive in and discover the perfect plants to complement your willow tree.

What to Plant under a Willow Tree

Planting under a Willow tree can be a beautiful and rewarding endeavor. This majestic tree provides ample shade and creates a serene atmosphere in any garden or yard. When considering what to plant under a Willow tree, it is important to consider the specific needs of the tree and the types of plants that will thrive in its shade. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  1. Shade-loving Plants: Since Willow trees provide abundant shade, it is best to choose plants that thrive in lower light conditions. Examples include ferns, hostas, and wildflowers like columbine or bleeding heart.
  2. Moisture-loving Plants: Willows prefer moist soil, so selecting plants that enjoy similar conditions will ensure a harmonious landscape. Consider planting moisture-loving perennials like astilbes, irises, or Japanese primroses.
  3. Ground Covers: To prevent erosion and add visual interest, ground covers can be an excellent choice under a Willow tree. Creeping phlox, lamium, or sweet woodruff can provide a lush carpet of green around the base of the tree.
  4. Ornamental Grasses: Ornamental grasses can add texture and movement to the garden while tolerating the shade of a Willow tree. Consider planting Hakone grass, Japanese forest grass, or tufted hair grass for an elegant touch.
  5. Native Species: Incorporating plants native to your region is not only beneficial for wildlife, but they are often well-suited to the growing conditions under a Willow tree. Research local native plants that thrive in shade and moist soil, such as trillium, bloodroot, or woodland phlox.

Remember to consider the size and growth habit of each plant to avoid overcrowding and competition for resources. Regular watering and periodic pruning of the Willow tree will help maintain a healthy growing environment for the plants underneath. With careful planning and selection, your garden under a Willow tree can become a lush and tranquil oasis.

What Can I Plant Next to a Weeping Willow Tree?

Weeping willows (Salix babylonica) are a beautiful addition to any garden, but they can be quite finicky when it comes to their surroundings. Here are some tips on what to plant next to a weeping willow tree:

1. Avoid plants that require a lot of water. Weeping willows are very thirsty trees and will compete with other plants for moisture. Choose drought-tolerant species that can survive on limited water resources.

2. Be careful with nitrogen-rich fertilizers. Weeping willows are heavy feeders and will quickly outcompete other plants for nutrients if given too much nitrogen fertilizer. Stick to organic compost or slow-release fertilizer formulas instead.

3. Plant tall species around the drip line of the tree. The weeping willow’s roots spread wide and shallow, so avoid planting anything underneath the tree that you don’t want root damage from competing roots systems.

Where Should You Not Plant a Willow Tree?

Willow trees are not recommended for planting near septic tanks, leach fields, or water lines because their roots can grow into and damage these underground structures. In addition, willows should not be planted in areas where they will interfere with power lines or other above-ground utilities. Finally, because willows require a lot of water, they should not be planted in drought-prone or otherwise dry areas.

Do You Trim the Bottom of a Willow Tree?

Yes, you can trim the bottom of a willow tree. This is typically done to remove any dead or diseased branches, as well as to shape the tree. When trimming the bottom of a willow tree, be sure to use sharp pruning shears and make clean cuts.

Does Weeping Willow Have Aggressive Roots?

No, weeping willow does not have aggressive roots.

What to Plant under Weeping Willow

One of the best trees to plant underneath a weeping willow is the dogwood tree. Dogwoods are known for their beautiful flowers and vibrant colors, and they make a great addition to any landscape. They also have a shallow root system that makes them ideal for planting under a weeping willow.

Other good choices for plants to put under a weeping willow include azaleas, rhododendrons, and ferns. All of these plants are relatively low-maintenance and can add beauty and interest to your yard or garden.

Hostas under Willow Tree

Willow trees and hostas go together like peanut butter and jelly. The weeping branches of the willow tree provide the perfect dappled shade for these low-growing, shade-loving plants. Hostas come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, and shapes, so there’s sure to be one that’s just right for your garden.

Underplanting a willow tree with hostas is a great way to add interest and texture to your landscape. The large leaves of the hosta will contrast nicely with the slender leaves of the willow tree. As an added bonus, the hostas will help keep the roots of the willow tree cool and moist.

When choosing a spot to plant your willow tree and hostas, make sure to select an area that receives partial or dappled shade. Both plants prefer moist soil, so if you have an area that tends to be on the dry side, consider adding some organic matter to help retain moisture. Once you’ve selected the perfect spot, simply dig a hole big enough for both plants and water well after planting.

With just a little bit of care, your willow tree and hostas will thrive!

Willow Tree Guild

Willow Tree Guild is a not-for-profit organization that provides support and resources for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. The organization was founded in 2006 by two women who are breast cancer survivors. Willow Tree Guild offers support groups, educational resources, and financial assistance to women in need.

The organization also advocates for public policy changes to improve the quality of care for breast cancer patients.

Planting under Beech Trees

If you’re looking to add some greenery to your yard but don’t have a lot of space, planting under beech trees is a great option. Beech trees are large and provide plenty of shade, making them ideal for smaller plants that need protection from the sun. When choosing plants for this area, look for ones that are tolerant of shade and won’t get too big.

Some good options include hostas, ferns, and astilbes. Before you start planting, it’s important to prepare the area by removing any weeds or grass that might compete with your new plants. Be sure to loosen the soil so that your plants can take root easily.

Once you’ve got everything ready, simply plant your chosen plants around the base of the beech tree. Water well and give them a little time to adjust to their new home before enjoying your beautiful new garden!

Frequently Asked Questions:

How long do willow trees live?

Willow trees typically live for about 30 to 50 years, although some may live longer under optimal conditions.

Do willow trees need sunlight?

Yes, willow trees thrive in full sunlight. They require a sunny location to grow and develop properly.

Do willow trees lose their leaves?

Yes, willow trees are deciduous and lose their leaves in the fall. willow trees are deciduous, and they shed their leaves in the autumn.


If you’re looking to add some color and life to your yard, consider planting flowers under a willow tree. Flowers that do well in shady conditions, like impatiens, hostas, and ferns, are ideal for this spot. You can also try shade-tolerant annuals like begonias and coleus.

Just be sure to give the area a good amount of water; willow trees are known for being thirsty!

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