Pussy willows, also known by their technical name Salix discolor, are commonly found in wet growth environments. They are native to the Canadian wetlands in the eastern United States, although they have the ability to thrive in most environments where there is abundant water.

The average height range for pussy willows is between 20 and 35 feet, with the tree having a total spread that is one-third of its height. The tree will grow 4-6 feet each year, reaching maturity in about 5 years.

This plant is a harbinger of spring and makes a great decoration indoors or stuck in amongst other early spring flowers in a container. The fluffy catkin is actually the flowering part of the plant. Like its willow relatives, the pussy willow sends out deep taproots and prefers a wet soil location.

It also likes the full sun, so it can get up to 20 feet high and 12 feet wide. Pruning is advisable to control the size and shape of the pussy willow, which can be trained into either a tree or shrub form. Based on the foregoing, let’s consider how to preserve willow branches and perhaps the entire exotic tree.

how to preserve willow branches

Harvest the pussy willows

February is the perfect time to start looking for pussy willows. For those living in the southeastern United States, pussy willows would probably start blooming during springtime. To locate pussy willows, you must go to where they love to grow. They love to grow along water edges where it’s nice and sunny. Pussy willows love it when the water is calm.

Once you’re out there, you must look for the classic shape. It’s a clump base that tapers up to a rounded fuller top. Some of them are quite large, and others, kind of a bit slenderer and taller. Scan through the tops of the bushes and you will find these distinctive buds that are bumpy all the way up. Against the blue sky, you can really see how they stand out.

They are really easy to cut, and the cut areas stimulate new growths for the following year. So just grab the main stock, pull it down close enough for you to cut the top parts, which are the pussy willow branches. Beautiful pussy willows can be used in vases or as crafts.

If yours haven’t bloomed fully, all you need to do is put them in some water until they are at the stage that you want, and then take them out. You can use them in your indoor décor or put them in your outdoor planters.  They look spectacular with spring flowers or cully willows.

Prep the branches

Pussy willow branches can be kept in great shape by crushing their end using a hammer before placement in water. This process increases the plant’s water absorption rate, helping your décor to bring forth even fresher buds. Soak willow branches in water for about half an hour. While they are still wet, carefully arrange the bends and curves, and allow the branches to dry out. To add a little touch to your preservation technique, you could use a bit of spray paint to coat the branches. Any paint color is fine, but you can do more for your willow branches by choosing snowy white or turquoise.

Method 1: Preserve willow branches with preservative sprays

Preserving willow branches takes from 2-6 weeks. You will need to keep checking the progress of the plant to see how it’s doing. To preserve fully, simply spray them with polyurethane varnish or other preservative spray and leave them for up to 24 hours to completely dry. Store in a cool, dry spot, and keep out of direct sunlight. The sprayed branches can be used for craft and decoration purposes.

Method 2: Preserve willow branches with resin

Make sure the branches are completely dry before casting them in resin. You can do this using silica gel. This sucks the moisture out really fast; helping the color to stay locked in, and stops the branches from rotting.

You need a silicone mold alongside your resin. The silicone mold makes it easier to pop out the resins once it has dried. Sanitize your molds with a little bit of alcohol, making sure there is no dirt. Apply the following steps to preserve with resin:

  • Add the resin to water in a 1:2 ratio.
  • Once you’ve thoroughly combined both parts of the mixture, pour a thin layer into your silicone molds.
  • After pouring the first layer in, give a little blowtorch just to pop any bubble that might be in the resin.
  • Start to layer your willow branches down.
  • Leave the molds to dry overnight.

If done well, the resin will preserve the willow branches perfectly.

Method 3: Preserve willow branches with glycerin

Glycerin is one of the best methods for preserving your willows. By submerging the plant in a solution of glycerin, it will soak in through osmosis and replace the moisture in the cellulose. To do this, follow the steps below:

  • Get 200 mils of warm water. Add 100 mils of glycerin to the water. That’s the ratio – one part of glycerin and two parts of warm water.
  • Stir the mixture with a popsicle stick. It can turn very cloudy, which will later clear off. When it clears off, it is thoroughly mixed.
  • Pour the mixture into a sizable container and mix the solution with latex paint. Spray the overall mixture on the willow branches. You can also submerge the branches into the glycerin.
  • Leave the plant in this solution for about 3 days. To maintain the color of the branches, add food coloring to the mixture.

Glycerin and alcohol are good preservation solutions that can also be applied to other household necessities.

Method 4: Preserve willow branches by floral arrangement

Turning your willow branches into great floral arrangements will preserve them. They can be arranged in an attractive vase that suits appropriately. To make a wreath from your pussy willow, you will require a glue gun, or in some cases, a wire to fasten it. Follow the steps below to make the floral arrangement:

  • Using your grapevine wreath, take the pussy willow branches and add a little bit of glue on the stem, depending on how wide you want to make the wreath.
  • Stick your willow branches anywhere on the grapevine. Make sure your arrangement is symmetrical. Focus on keeping the willows at the same distance.
  • If done well, you will achieve a fascinating and amazing pussy willow wreath.

So that is how to preserve willow branches. You can try it with ease and document the steps you take or record purposes. You can share your experiences with us or teach other people interested in the willow branches preservation art.

About the Author Dwight Donovan

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