© 2022 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WEDH · WEDN · WEDW · WEDY · WNPR
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Connecticut Garden Journal: Pussy willows are harbingers of spring

Close-up of white dandelion flower
florentinamhada / 500px/Getty Images/500px
/
500px
Pussy willows are native to our Northern climate and are actually important for pollinators as well.

Ahhh, I know it's spring when pussy willows start showing up. The stems with gray, fuzzy, catkins are fun to cut and collect for arrangements in the home. Pussy willows are native to our Northern climate and are actually important for pollinators as well. Their early blooming, fuzzy, catkins give way to flowers which are loaded pollen and nectar for emerging bees and insects. By the way, the word catkin comes from the Dutch word for kitten, because they look similar to the tail of a cat.

Like many willows, pussy willows root easily. In fact, we often put some water in a vase of cut pussy willow stems and watch as the roots emerge and the plant grows in the vase. Once the roots are at least a few inches long, you can pot up the pussy willow stems. Keep them in sun and keep the soil moist. By May, plant them in their permanent spot. Pussy willows like full sun and wet soils that have some drainage. They grow into large shrubs and benefit from severe pruning every few years to promote more new growth, which leads to better pussy willows and catkins that are easier to reach.

While gray is the color of our native pussy willow catkins, there are other colored types, such as black and pink. The Asian black pussy willow produces black catkins on plants that are a little more tender than our native. The pink pussy willows are from Asia or Europe and provide a cool color contrast to the black and gray ones. All of these are good for pollinators and grow under similar conditions as our native into large shrubs in the yard.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.
Related Content