Salix purpurea ‘Gracilis’ (‘Nana’)
purpurea = purple gracilis = slender nana = dwarf
A choice dwarf shrub with small bluish leaves and a dense, compact habit. Never needs pruning, in fact it never needs anything done to it except be enjoyed! How’s that for a low-maintenance plant? The oldest plant I’ve seen is at the Montreal Botanic Garden (at right) and is about 6ft high and 10ft across! Looks like it’s been there since the garden was opened! The leaves are tiny just over an inch long, less than .25in wide and grayish blue. I've never seen catkins on any of my plants--maybe they're too small to see! Hardy to Zone 2, probably the hardiest willows we offer.
USES: Great for using in the landscape, just about anywhere. A great willow for creating a hedge to protect other plants from deer. It’s so dense that deer can’t get through it and wide enough for them not to jump over it--after 4-5 years
TIP: Cuttings of Dwarf Arctic Willow require a little more fussing over than other willows as they are thinner than most. Take the thickest stems you can find and root them in pots in a peat/perlite 1/1 mix by volume and cover with a plastic bag on a north facing windowsill. Watered in and left alone for a week, then open the bag, check soil moisture and give more light. After several weeks, plant and water in to settle the soil. This works for any tricky-to-root Willows!
A really old plant at the MBG. Look at those trunks! “Dwarf” is a relative term in plant lexicology
below: Don Statham, a customer and friend, has an affinity for the Dwarf Arctic Willow
and uses it extensively in his beautifully landscaped property SW of Albany NY.
The foliage of all purpureas is a very pleasant blue-green and like many willows starts out red tinged. Stems are also red at first; if coppiced they produce long slender stems.
Below a couple of coppiced plants at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
The Wonderful World of Willows
Vermont Willow Nursery
$12.50 per bundle of 5
Below is a 6 year old plant in our dry stream bed. On an overcast day 'Gracilis' photographs in truer/bluer color!
'Gracilis' in a hedge display at the Holden Arboretum, in Ohio.
If planted at 24in spacing they make an impenetrable fedge, even for deer!
below: 'Gracilis' in the Kingsbrae Garden in St. Andrews, NB, Canada.
A must-stop garden on our way to summer visits to Nova Scotia!
Sanguinaria obtusa (Japanese Bottlebrush/Burnet) at front right--a great perennial for late summer color.
Behind that is Tamarix/Tamarisk, a delicate shrub in the North; an invasive thug in the Southwest!
An ancient coppiced plant in the Chicago Botanical Garden producing lots of vigorous new stems.
Female catkins photographed in the Chicago BG.