How to Trim Blue Arctic Willows

Things You\’ll Need

  • Pruning saw

  • Loppers

  • Pruning shears

  • Potting soil (optional)

Arctic blue willows, which have the botanical name of Salix purpurea, also go by the common names of purple osier willow and basket willow. It gets its name from the coloring of the leaves, which are greenish blue on the top and silver-blue on the undersides. It grows to a width and height of 10 feet at full maturity, and requires annual pruning to maintain an attractive shape as well as to control the overall size of the shrub.

Step 1

Wait until late winter to early summer to prune the Arctic blue willow shrub.

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Step 2

Look for any dead branches or stems and remove them by pruning them off at the area where they emerge from another branch or from the trunk. Use a pruning saw to make the cuts.

Step 3

Peer closely at the branches to identify bark damage caused by branches rubbing against each other. Cut off all branches that rub by tracing them back to the trunk and cutting them using a pruning saw. Make cuts 1/4 inch above the collar, which is the raised portion at the base of the branch.

Step 4

Examine the very top of the Arctic blue willow, if it is a weeping variety with limbs that hang downward. Locate any vertical growing branches that emerge from the top of the trunk and prune them off at the trunk top using loppers or a pruning saw. These limbs are from the rootstock, which is a different tree variety from the Arctic blue willow branches.

Step 5

Trim 1/2 to 1 inch off of the tips of all of the branches using pruning shears to neaten the appearance of the shrub. If the Arctic blue willow is young, the shape will be an oval; if it is older, the shape is more rounded.


Rejuvenate older shrubs by pruning them down to between 4 and 24 inches above the ground using loppers or pruning shears.

If desired, plant the trimmed-off portions of the Arctic blue willow in potting soil and they will form roots.