The Variegated Japanese Willow is frequently known as the Dappled Japanese Willow, Red Twig Willow, Hakuro Nishiki, Fuiji Koriangi, Fuiji Nishiki or Albomarginata. Although a willow, this low growing plant more strongly resembles a bush than a tree.
The Variegated Japanese Willow is unusual in that its bark turns bright red in winter. As the main branch grows into a thicker trunk, it stops changing color in the winter. It sprouts yellow variegated leaves in the spring that turn pink by early summer. By mid-autumn, the leaves turn yellow again. After dropping the leaves, the branches begin to turn from a light pink to a deep red.
Japanese variegated willows grow to between 3 and 6 feet tall with a spread of between 3 and 6 feet. As the willow ages, it will develop a single leader that is stronger than the rest and can begin to take on the visual appearance of a tree, rather than that of a bush.
The Japanese variegated willow grows in zones 5 though 7. It can tolerate temperatures down to -15 degrees F, with short times down to -20 degrees F. This plant does better with moderate to wet conditions and may require a good deal of water in arid and semi-arid climates.
This plant is often used as a low to medium height bush, shrub or tree. Because it thrives on wet conditions, it grows exceptionally well next to a pond or stream. If allowed to grow to its natural height, it will often reach 6 feet tall. In some growing conditions, the Japanese variegated willow can reach 10 feet tall.
Plant the Japanese variegated willow in full sun. In general, prune in late winter to maintain size and maintain the white and pink variagations. To keep a particular specimen small, prune again in July to reduce the amount of new growth. Water frequently. The variegated Japanese willow can take a long time to make the transition from a bush to a tree. However, once it begins to grow from a single main trunk, it can grow quite quickly.