A shrubby plant that is fast-growing and displays pink and white foliage, the dappled willow (Salix integra 'Hakuro-Nishiki') also bears purple-tinted branches and puffy "pussy willow" flowers in early spring. It matures 5 to 10 feet tall and wide. Good as a hedge or screen if pruned or as a solitary specimen plant with arching, wispy branches, it is best grown in a moist but well-draining soil in a partially shaded location so intense sunlight doesn't scorch the pale-colored leaves. It should receive between four and seven hours of direct sunlight daily. Grow selection Hakuro-Nishiki in U.S. Department of Agriculture winter hardiness zones 5 through 8.
Measure the depth and diameter of the root ball of the willow with a measuring stick or tape. If it is growing in a container, make sure you measure the depth or height of the root ball based on the soil level in the container, not the top rim.
Dig a planting hole with a garden shovel that is the same depth/height of the shrub's root ball but two to three times wider.
Remove the shrub from the container and place the root ball into the center of the planting hole. Loosen any compacted or encircling roots in the root ball with your fingers or gently slice them with the shovel blade.
Note the levelness of the root ball in the planting hole. Add or remove soil from the hole until the top of the root ball is at the same level as the edge of the planting hole. In heavy clay soil, consider planting the root ball 1 inch higher than the edge of the hole for improved drainage.
Back-fill the planting hole, gently tamping the soil with your hand. Ensure the shrub remains upright and not crooked during the process. Fill the hole until the soil is level with the top of the shrub's root ball.
Encircle the planting area with a low berm of soil left over from the project. Create a 2- to 3-inch berm that will act to gather irrigation water.
Fill a sprinkling can or use a garden hose to apply at least 3 gallons of water to the planting areas, wetting the root ball and soil in the hole. Apply more water to ensure the soil is wet down to at least to a depth of 12 inches.
Place more soil in the planting hole if the watering settled it. Add soil until the top of the root ball is even with the top edge of the planting hole. If you chose to plant the shrub 1 inch high in the heavy clay soil, maintain that depth and add soil if settling occurred.
Scatter a layer of organic mulch around the planting area. It should be a depth of 3 to 4 inches and extend from the plant trunk outward to 2 feet beyond the farthest reach of the branches. Keep the mulch 3 inches away from the trunk itself to improve air circulation and prevent fungal rot. If you planted the shrub high in the hole in the heavy clay soil, this mulch layer should cover up the height differential and keep the root ball moist and cool.
Monitor the newly planting Hakuro-Nishiki shrub for the next six months, watering it to always keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Even with natural rainfall, ensure the shrub's root ball receives 2 to 4 inches of water each week.