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Ramshorn Willow

Salix babylonica 'crispus'

Diary Of Ramshorn Willow Bonsai

We like to have things on hand, and I like the unusual, so when I saw the Salix babylonica 'crispus' it was a 'had to' buy.  Looking all over for zone hardiness, I found a reference that the Salix babylonica can be grown in zone 10, as long as adequate water is provided.  This is no problem where the bonsai culture is getting set up.  The height and size can be controlled, as well as the amount of sun, and heat exposure.

The normal USDA Zones are generally 6-8, some sites venturing to zone 9.  The key to this family is that arid air is okay, but the roots need moisture, so it should be relatively easy to manage as a bonsai.

The reason I'm excited about this tree is that it can be added to the arsenal of natural rooting hormones for propagating green and semi-green plant cuttings along with the raw honey and cinnamon powder we usually keep on hand.

We ordered a small seedling off eBay to get started as seeds to not develop into true forms of the tree.

Salix babylonica 'crispus'

2018-11-18 One More Year 

This year the canopy spread out a bit and the trunk thickened up a surprising amount.  The supporting pole was removed and no trimming has been done. 

The height of the tree is good and we need the canopy to widen out and create more cascading weeping form.  The fall colors are gorgeous - we hardly get any color variations in our area. 

Last year the tree was moved to a larger planter. Once we get to full dormancy we will need to do a root check this year and see if the tree requires root pruning on a frequent basis, since it is a fast growing type of tree. 

We may try taking some dormant cuttings for rooting along with a bunch of fig cuttings we are starting over the winter.

2017-11-11 Taller Still... Getting Weepy And Feeling The Fall
Salix babylonica 'crispus'

Once the ramshorn willow got tall enough the main stem was clipped.  This resulted in some branching activity at a decent height.  It looks like the willow is getting ready to drop everything for fall and take a break from all that growing work.

I think willow may be a little root bound. The soil seemed dry around the edges so we put some coconut coir on top to help retain moisture at the top of the soil line until willow goes dormant and we can do a decent inspection and repotting.

Willow did great with the summer for the most part. Keeping willow on the north side of the shed worked really well for keeping the roots as cool as possible and well hydrated.

Winter always makes me nervous with the barren branches.

Salix babylonica 'crispus'

2017-06-10 Tall and Lanky

The ramshorn willow is a fast grower.  It has more than doubled in size and is very amusing as it looks like a bunch of green scribbles over lines.  I'm looking forward to the day when it starts branching out.  I think it is getting to that point with the mass of little scribbles at the top.

To control the height, we'll probably need to lop off the lead and work on a depressed curve to accentuate the weepy look of the tree.  I'm not sure what I want in the end, but having a curly leafed weepy tree works for me now.

2017-04-12 Its Cute And All, Yet Still Small
Salix babylonica 'crispus'

The willow tree is super cute. I probably will never stop describing it that way. But it is still so small and I guess I am impatient.

Looking back from when the tree arrived, we are double the original size now.  It has enough leaves to make for a decent side-shot now too.

The taper of the leaves from the base of the branch to the tip of the branch makes for a nice shape.

Salix babylonica 'crispus'

2017-04-02 - A Close Shot

We grabbed up a nice macro shot of the cute little leaves on the willow tree today.

Really looking forward to the tree getting nice, tall and branching out to make a small dappled understory environment for some of  the more temperate plants in the yarden.

2017-03-28 - A Nice Come Back

Salix babylonica 'crispus'
Here is another tree that I did not realize was deciduous.  The leaves became ugly and dropped off, and I was sure I had killed this little tree off.  Then, here it is with a mess of new leaves and a little taller this year, and having longer branches... not by much though.

The willow was transplanted to a larger pot to accommodate more root growth.  This thing is so spindly right now, a side photograph is really not possible - not too visible!

If this tree holds true to the other willow family members, it could reach its full bonsai height this year and after capping it off start on the nice spreading canopy.  The optimal height before branching out is 10'. This fits in okay with imperial bonsai size.

Salix babylonica 'crispus'

2016-10-01 - New Growth

Not much happened with the Polaris (curly willow) until it was moved outside.  It hangs out with the tropical plants where the soil is kept pretty moist.  Polaris loves the sunshine, warm weather and adequately moist soil.

All the brighter yellow to lime green leaves are the new growth, so we have about a half inch or so since the last photo.  Not too bad. These tress have the capability of growing quite fast, up to eight feet per year.

The Salix babylonica originated from arid areas of China, and the 'crispa' variety is considered a mutant version of the original Chinese tree. Willows are commonly used as bonsai specimens and very cute ones to boot.

2016-09-09 Lets Get Growing...
Salix babylonica 'crispus' leaf spot

The seedling arrived in the mail today.  It is super cute, but there is cause for concern.  It was probably a bad idea to rinse it off, but I thought the brown leaf spots were clingy dirt particles.  All the curly cuteness gives this one a name of  Merida.

Upon closer inspection, it appears to be a symptom of some type of fungal infection. Which one, I have no clue yet.

Salix babylonica 'crispus' seedling

The good news is since we live in a dry climate, this probably will not advance much, but we're contacting the seller to get a proper identification and treatment method of what this could be in order to get the tree off to the best start.

Overall, in a dappled shade environment with an appropriate water schedule should keep this trees growth and health under control.  Seller consultation after reviewing photos is that the leaf spots are sunburn.  Interesting and good to know!

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