Selection of Willows for Floral and Stem Quality and Continuous Production Sequence in Temperate North America

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, The Ohio State University.
  • | 2 Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, 2001 Fyffe Court, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.

The study addresses the problem of diversification and quality of willow (Salix) cut stems. Very few ornamental willow species are currently in production for the cut-stem trade in temperate North America, and they have a relatively short annual harvest period. This study selected 20 taxa of willow with the potential for cut-stem industry based on observations of more than 150 taxa in central Ohio for 4 years. Growth and ornamental qualities of branches and inflorescences of those species, hybrids, or cultivars were measured and evaluated. The species range in hardiness from USDA zones 2 through 7, but the majority are best suited to zone 4 and 5 conditions. Specific descriptions of each species are provided, focusing on those details important for the floral industry including stem length, bark and bud colors, catkin color and quality, optimal harvest time, and the sequence of bloom among species. Stems for catkin display can be harvested and marketed from January through April. Branches used for bark and bud color displays and for stem shape have an even longer harvest period. New selections provide a greater range of stem size, catkin characteristics, bark and bud color, and prolonged harvest period, than commonly used pussy-willows.

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