I’ve had the joy of growing pussy willow bushes for over 30 years. My friendship with them began when my mother-in-law gave me a 6” sprig of a pussy willow. I potted it, later planted it and later yet, created at least 30 more bushes from that mother pussy willow.
I call these my ‘Allene pussy willows’. They began my education and love for this first harvest of the year outside.
Years later, i was invited by Cornell University to fill out a detailed survey of these willows in my area. As compensation, they sent me 10 pussy willows from their trials. I’ll never remember the varieties name- it might have been a long number actually. Anyway, i planted them many years ago. They take up space! They grow like a big candelabra , from the base up with long strong stems. They are also quite tall, pushing 15 feet if not for the hard pruning they get each early spring. The coolest aspect of these dudes is that they start ‘pussying-up’ in late January thru February. Product from outside, in quantity, in Zone 6! I’ll never forget my first harvest- out in a January blizzard, harvesting pussy willows by the arm load. I should give them a name too… We’ll call them the ‘Cornell Boys’.
Harvest pussy willows when the catkins have just emerged. If you put them in water, the catkins will continue to emerge until they pass their beauty prime and start to throw pollen and then grow leaves. Roots too. Voila, you now have a little bush! OR, keep them in water till they peak and then keep them in the vase dry. They will last for years and years. Hose off the dust!
I’ve sold hundreds, probably thousands of pussy willow bunches. I’ve probably heard just about as many times “My Grandma had one of those bushes.”
This is without question a nostalgic botanical… it seems to take folks back to a different time and generation. It certainly makes them smile!