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‘Prairie Cascade’ Weeping Willow

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  • February 9, 2015
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Salix x ‘Prairie Cascade’

15-year old ‘Prarie Cascade’ in Red Deer. S. LePage photo.

I am very impressed with this tree and see it as a potential substitute for the weeping birch that are dying throughout Red Deer as a result of bronze birch borer infestation.  Prairie Cascade is very quick-growing and has nice glossy leaves and bright twigs, with a distinct weeping form after its first couple years of growth.  It is insect and disease resistant.  As with all willows, it is messy, and frequently drops a lot of twigs after windstorms.  Proper structural pruning is essential with this species, in order to avoid storm damage as the tree ages. Weeping willows get large and need their space. Don’t plant any closer than 20′ to a house or garage, and allow for a 30’+ height and spread.  Don’t plant in areas close to water or sewer pipes as willow roots are aggressive.

We recently planted 65 of these trees along a long acreage driveway near Mirror, AB.  We’re excited to see the results in a few years.  It will be a driveway like no other in Alberta, I’m sure.


Full sun

Pruning Time

Willows are best pruned in the dormant season, from late fall to mid-Spring.  Deadwood can be safely removed at any time of year.


Newly planted and young trees should be pruned annually to encourage a strong framework of scaffold limbs.  Willows will, almost always, form self-destructive structures if left unpruned. Mature trees are best pruned by professional climbing arborists.

Row of willows 2 years after planting as #5 pot trees, after their third structural prune. S. LePage photo.

UPDATE – We have found that trees planted as a #5 pot will grow up to 4′ or more per season, and require aggressive strucural pruning.  Otherwise, they quickly develop poor structure.  If the client’s budget allows, we now prefer to provide structural pruning twice per season, once in late June, and another in late Fall.

Crown Reduction

Not appropriate for this species.  At planting, allow sufficient space for the mature size of this tree.

(c) 2015 Shane LePage, Wild Rose Garden & Tree Service, Red Deer, AB.