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Salix Exigua or Coyote Willow
Salix Exigua is a compact form of willow, with silvery deciduous foliage and pretty catkins. It holds the RHS Award of Garden Merit for its low maintenance easy-grow aspects.
This large erect shrub or small tree is native to the wilder areas of North America and Mexico where its dense shrubby foliage provides camouflage for wildlife and gives the tree its more common name ‘coyote willow’. It has taken very well to UK growing conditions where it provides shelter to our less lethal wildlife.
Coyote Willow’s long slender branches are touched with grey-green and its young lanced-shaped leaves have a silvery hue much like those of an olive tree, but with fine downy hair that makes them feel silky. As foliage matures it turns to a soft grey-green and eventually measures up to ten centimetres long. In spring slender yellowy-grey catkins sprout among the thin leaves dangling six centimetres from the branches to attract bees and butterflies.
Height and Spread of Salix Exigua
Many willows grow quickly and can get out of control, but Coyote Willow will only reach four metres tall by four metres wide so it doesn’t outstrip its space. It can be kept smaller with yearly pruning if required
How Hardy Is Salix Exigua
Coyote Willow is fully hardy in the UK down to sub-zero temperatures if it’s grown in well-drained soil. It is happy with any type of soil PH and will grow in sandy or chalky soils too.
How To Use Salix Exigua
Coyote Willow’s silvery branches bring lightness to the back of a flower border and provide lots of thick cover for wildlife and roosting birds. It grows well on banks and slopes and forms an excellent windbreak or natural sunshade around seating areas or vegetable gardens.
Because Coyote Willow has dense bushy foliage that grows with a lust for life it quickly creates an informal neighbour-proof screen.
Alternatively, plant Salix Exigua as a specimen shrub or small tree to lighten a dull area.
How To Care For Salix Exigua
All willows need moist but well-drained soil. It will cope with occasional flooding but won’t grow in waterlogged conditions. Coyote willow will grow in both exposed and sheltered sites but it doesn’t enjoy coastal settings.
Water well until established and thin out old wood or crossed branches in early February to encourage new silvery growth in Spring.
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