Audubon® Prairie Willow
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Near just about every stream, lake, pond, river, or wetland in America are willows. These moisture-loving trees and shrubs provide some of the greatest benefits to wildlife offered by any plant. They host literally hundreds of species of caterpillars, which serve as high-quality food for countless birds. Of course, if you’re a bird lover and you have a water feature on your property, you’ll want to have some willows. But what if you don’t have a soggy site? Prairie Willow to the rescue! Plant this tough species in any average soil and it will thrive, providing all of the benefits of its water-loving sisters.
May Benefit & Attract: chickadees & titmice, sparrows, wood warblers, thrushes, wrens, woodpeckers, mockingbirds & thrashers, crows & jays, waxwings, vireos, cardinals & grosbeaks, nuthatches, orioles
Take Birds Under Your Wing
New! Introducing our bird-friendly collection of Audubon® Native Plants & Trees
- Better for Birds, 100% Neonic-Free
- Not Available in non-native regions, states or counties (see Native Regions map)
Bower & Branch is proud to grow Audubon® Native Plants for Birds in partnership with the National Audubon Society to help birds and other wildlife thrive.
- The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow
- This bird-friendly native plant provides food and shelter for local and migrating birds and other wildlife
- Your purchase and planting of this native flora directly supports Audubon’s conservation mission and impact
- Learn how you can help birds in your home and community through Audubon’s Plants for Birds program
- Audubon Native Plants & Trees are free of neonicotinoids and exclusively grown by Bower & Branch
Audubon® is a licensed and registered trademark of the National Audubon Society. All rights reserved.
- Hardiness Zone: 3-8
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Recommended by Our Growers
Prairie Willow is not relegated to the prairies. It is found all over the eastern United States, from North Dakota to Maine and from East Texas to Florida. It is more common in the North. This unusual Willow species can be found on moist sites, but it is equally likely to call a dry, sandy or gravelly place home. In these dry sites, it usually stays less than four feet tall; on wetter ones, it can become eight or even 12 feet tall. Prairie Willow forms a thicket, which provides nesting habitat that’s attractive to goldfinches, catbirds, mockingbirds, and warblers.
In the earliest days of spring, Willows (and Pussy Willows) erupt into bloom—their flowers are fuzzy gray catkins that often turn yellow as the blooms develop. Male and female flowers are produced on separate plants, the males providing pollen to early-foraging bees and the females offering nectar. Prairie Willow gives valuable sustenance to native cuckoo bees, sweat bees, and mining bees when not much else is blooming.
How to Grow
Prairie Willow is an easygoing, undemanding Accent that’s wonderful for mixed borders, native plant gardens, or any place where you want something green and low-maintenance. You can plant it by a pond or water feature, or in a drier spot. If you choose a dry location, just be sure to irrigate regularly during the first summer while it is putting down roots. This plant prefers full sun, but will tolerate a bit of shade. Little pruning will be necessary, but if you do prune late in the year, don’t destroy the clippings. Some lovely butterflies overwinter as caterpillars in rolled-up Willow leaves.
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