Salix humilis

Salix humilis Prairie Willow


 Confirmed Request

Prairie Willow, also referred to by its scientific name Salix humilis, is a vibrant green shrub that adds a touch of emerald to any garden. Salix humilis is a hardy plant, it prefers to grow in partial to full sun environments. It favors drier soils and tolerates drought more than any other species in the Salix genus. It is common to see this plant thriving in the gravely/sandier soils. It is a relatively short growing shrub, usually growing 4 to 5 feet. However, given the proper environments, Prairie Willow can grow wider and taller. New Prairie Willow plants can be started by simply cutting the stem (a practice commonly referred to as cloning) and planting the cut-off portion in soil. Roots will begin to grow shortly thereafter.
Salix humilis - Prairie Willow

Map Key

This map shows the native and introduced (adventive) range of this species. Given appropriate habitat and climate, native plants can be grown outside their range.

4 Questions asked on Salix humilis

Q Michael • April 30 Does this attract a lot of spring pollinators?
A Prairie Moon • May 2 Hi Michael. Yes! Since Salix species bloom so early, they are critical to early-flying pollinators when few other species are blooming. Prairie Willow and Pussy Willow top Heather Holm's Plant-Insect Relations Chart.
Q Susan • March 8 I heard that there are male and female plants...Is this true? How can you tell them apart and does one have larger catkins?
A Prairie Moon • March 9 Hi Susan, This is a great question! There are distinct differences between the male and female plants. The fuzzy catkin typically associated with the Pussy Willow (shown below) is actually the male flowering parts of the plant. The female plants also form catkins but they’re not as fuzzy like their male counterparts. For more on this topic, check out this informative blog .
Q Steve • March 14 Prairie willow is dioceosus. If I plant just the male, will it still develop the showy catkins without a female present? Also, will the male plant spread without a female plant present?
A Prairie Moon • March 15 Hi Steve, Healthy male Prairie Willow will produce catkins with or without a female present. However, you may sometimes notice a Pussy Willow without catkins. If this is occurring, you’ll want to check for issues that could be causing the plant to be stressed. Is it getting enough water? Is it getting enough sunlight? Has it been a hard winter causing birds to eat the catkins? Did you prune at the wrong time?

Without a female plant in the vicinity, it is unlikely that the male will be pollinated and produce viable seed. However, Prairie Willow will spread by the roots and is very easy to propagate by cuttings.

Q Deb • November 3 Do you ever have plants available? If so please notify me. Thanks!
A Prairie Moon • November 3 Hi Deb. It has been several years since we were able to get a healthy and plentiful enough crop to sell bare root plants. That being said, we are looking to partner with a local nursery that specializes in native shrubs. Keep an eye out for updated inventory!

Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.

Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years.

Seed dormancy can be broken artificially by prolonged refrigeration of damp seed in the process of cold/moist STRATIFICATION. A less complicated approach is to let nature handle the stratifying through a dormant seeding, sowing seeds on the surface of a weed-free site in late fall or winter. Tucked safely beneath the snow, seeds will be conditioned by weathering to make germination possible in subsequent growing seasons.

To learn more, read our BLOG: How to Germinate Native Seeds


We dig plants when they are dormant from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. Some species go dormant in the summer and we can ship them July/August. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order.

Download: Installing Your Bare-Root Plants


3-packs and trays of 32, 38, or 50 plants leave our Midwest greenhouses based on species readiness (being well-rooted for transit) and order date; Spring shipping is typically early May through June, and Fall shipping is mid-August through September. Potted 3-packs and trays of 38 plugs are started from seed in the winter so are typically 3-4 months old when they ship. Trays of 32/50 plugs are usually overwintered so are 1 year old. Plant tray cells are approximately 2” wide x 5” deep in the trays of 38 and 50, and 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep in the 3-packs and trays of 32; ideal for deep-rooted natives. Full-color tags and planting & care instructions are included with each order.

Download: Planting and Care of Potted Plants

*PLEASE NOTE: we are a mail order nursery and have no retail facilities, but you may pick up your order if prior arrangements are made. Pick up orders are subject to **MN Sales Tax.

Shipping & Handling Charges:
SEED $100.00 and under: $5.00
Retail SEED orders over $100.00 ship free! Custom seed mixes or wholesale seed sales over $100, add 5% of the total seed cost
(for orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required)

BARE ROOT and POTTED PLANTS $50.00 and under: $9.00
over $50.00: 18% of the total plant cost. (For orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required.)

TOOLS and BOOKS have the shipping fee included in the cost of the product (within the contiguous US).

**We are required to collect state sales tax in certain states. Your state's eligibility and % will be calculated at checkout. MN State Sales Tax of 7.375% is applied for orders picked up at our MN location. Shipping & handling charges are also subject to the sales tax.

Shipping Season:

SEED, TOOLS and BOOKS are sent year-round. Most orders ship within a day or two upon receipt.

BARE ROOT PLANTS are shipped during optimal transplanting time: Spring (April-May) and Fall (Oct). Some ephemeral species are also available for summer shipping. Since our plants are field-grown, Nature sets the schedule each year as to when our season will begin and end. We fill all orders, on a first-come, first-serve basis, to the best of our ability depending on weather conditions beyond our control.

POTTED PLANTS (Trays of 32/38/50 plugs and 3-packs) typically begin shipping early May and go into June; shipping time is heavily dependent on all the species in your order being well-rooted. If winter-spring greenhouse growing conditions are favorable and all species are well-rooted at once, then we ship by order date (first come, first serve).  We are a Midwest greenhouse, and due to the challenges of getting all the species in the Mix & Match and Pre-Designed Garden Kits transit-ready at the same time, we typically can't ship before early May.  Earlier shipment requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

*We are unable to ship PLANTS (bare root or potted) outside the contiguous US or to CALIFORNIA due to regulations.


We ship using USPS, UPS and Spee Dee. UPS and Spee Dee are often used for expediting plant orders; they will not deliver to Post Office Box numbers, so please also include your street address if ordering plants. We send tracking numbers to your email address so please include it when you order.



Germination Code
Life Cycle
Sun Exposure
Full, Partial
Soil Moisture
Medium, Medium-Dry, Dry
up to 8 feet
Bloom Time
April, May
Pollinator Favorite: butterflies, moths, bees, wasps, beetles Bird Favorite: seeds, insects, fruit, nectar, nesting, perch
USDA Zones
Plant Spacing
Catalog Number