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How to Care for Dwarf Dappled Willow Trees

Dwarf dappled willow is one of more than 300 species of willow trees. It is also called the Hakuro-nishiki, dappled Japanese willow, Albo-maculata and variegated willow. The dwarf dappled willow is a shrub-like tree that grows only 6 to 10 feet tall and provides colorful interest year-round. The dwarf dappled willow produces yellow catkins in April, followed by pink spring foliage that turns green and creamy-white in the summer. The color show persists into the fall, when the dwarf dappled willow's leaves turn yellow. In the winter, the leaves fall but the stems turn a vibrant red color.

Water your dwarf dappled willow tree deeply and evenly once each week in the spring through autumn. Provide at least 1 inch of water per week, and go beyond the canopy area of the tree to ensure that all of the wide-spreading roots receive water.

Spread a 2-inch-thick layer of organic compost or well-rotted, aged manure on the ground around your dwarf dappled willow tree once each year in early spring. Or, you can feed the willow a slow-release 10-10-10 NPK tree fertilizer according to the dosage on the label.

Prune your dappled willow tree once each year during late winter to remove all diseased, damaged or broken branches. Remove about one-third of the oldest branches each year and cut away all shoots growing from the base of the trunk.

Treat your dwarf dappled willow for insect infestations, particularly by beetles, aphids, lace bugs, borers and caterpillars. Apply an appropriate insecticidal soap or horticultural oils to your dappled willow tree to get rid of these insects, following the instructions on the labels.


You can also spread a 2- to 3-inch-thick layer of bark or wood-chip mulch on the ground around the base of your dwarf dappled willow tree to help retain soil moisture. Make the mulch ring at least as wide as the canopy area to ensure that you’re covering at least half of the root system or more.


Although the dwarf dappled willow is much smaller than other large willow species, keep in mind that its roots will grow up to four times longer than the length of the branches. Don’t plant this tree within 40 feet of a septic system or other underground piping.

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