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How to Care for Dappled Willow Trees

Dappled willow trees, also called Salix integra "Hakuro Nishiki," are some of the smallest willow trees, growing only 4 to 6 feet tall and 4 to 6 feet wide. They are hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8 where the temperature does not drop below minus-10 degrees Fahrenheit. Dappled willows are susceptible to disease and pests and as such require special care to thrive.

Plant the dappled willow tree in an area with full sun or light shade and moist, fertile well-drained soil. The tree will tolerate sandy, clay and somewhat dry soil once established. It prefers somewhat acidic to somewhat alkaline soil, ranging in pH from 5.6 to 7.8.

Water the willow, keeping it evenly moist the first growing season after planting. This will allow it to develop a deep root system. Do not allow it to dry out between waterings. Stop watering a few weeks before frost and begin again in the early spring.

Fertilize each spring with a general-purpose fertilizer. This will improve the color variegation of the plant throughout the growing season. Follow the directions on the package for application instructions.

Prune the dappled willow in early winter or early spring when it lies dormant. Cut out any dead, diseased, infested or broken branches with pruning shears. For a short, dense plant, prune all branches down to 12 inches tall every few years. For a more open, taller plant, prune 1/3 of the branches down to the ground every or every other year.

Tip

Dappled willow, like other willows, is particularly susceptible to disease. Pruning out 1/3 of the branches each year helps prevent disease and pest infestation, as this mostly occurs on old wood. If you notice your dappled willow has a disease, do not hesitate to prune all the diseased wood away, leaving very healthy wood left. The tree will rebound.

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