Dappled Willow

A Quick Guide to the Dappled Willow

Problem areas in the yard, such as damp and partially shady locations, are exactly the type of conditions that the dappled willow enjoys.  A burst of color throughout the year, this plant will provide exactly the accent that this type of area needs.

Gardeners have long been frustrated over finding plants to light up the shadier and low lying areas in yards.  Especially in locations where an abundance of evergreen trees are present, it is difficult to find ornamental plants, shrubs or even trees that can do well in conditions that include acidic soils.  There are plants that excel in shady conditions, others that fare well in conditions featuring boggy soils and still others that require acidic soils.  Finding a plant that not only can endure all three conditions, but actually thrives in them is truly a remarkable feat. 

The dappled willow is just the plant to meet these needs.  It can be groomed as either a large shrub or a small tree, depending on the individual needs and desires of the gardener.  A member of the willow family, this specimen is a dwarf variety that reaches anywhere from 4 feet in height to 15 feet in height depending on the variety planted.  Even the largest dwarf variety, however, can be trained to adopt a much smaller stature than it is capable of achieving.  They can even be grown in containers to further inhibit growth yet adding lovely accents to patios or small garden areas. 

An amazing feature of this dwarf willow, besides its adaptability to poor conditions, is the brilliant color that it adds to these otherwise drab and uninteresting areas of the landscape.  Springtime brings forth many colors in the form of blossoms on plants and trees, but the dappled willow is exceptionally lovely in that its very foliage is the source of color.  Willows are well known for their early entrance into the spring arena, but most trees feature only the bright green leaves.  This dwarf variety sends out bright pink shoots in the spring that will later fade out to display equally beautiful light green and creamy white foliage.  These bright colors will remain throughout the spring and summer season if the proper fertilization is provided.  When autumn arrives, the leaves develop into a bright yellow to usher in the cooler weather.  One variety of the dappled willow called “Flamingo” exhibits bright pink foliage throughout its growing season, and shows its strength as a four season plant with its stunning red stems in the fall and winter. 

As with most willows, the dwarf varieties are extremely easy to propagate.  Purchasing one of these amazingly versatile trees can soon provide the gardener with a variety of color by taking cuttings from the original tree.  Some gardeners have reported that merely sticking a branch into moist soil has produced magnificent trees.  Very little care is required for successful results, but fertilization will definitely improve the bright coloration of the tree. 

In addition to providing splashes of pinks, whites and vibrant greens to otherwise dark and colorless areas in the landscape, the dappled willow helps to alleviate wet conditions and make them more habitable.  The root systems of larger willow varieties are known to be invasive and damaging to septic systems and foundations, but the dwarf varieties are much less problematic.  The root systems are still further reaching than most, which helps in relieving the wet conditions it loves.  If there are concerns of root invasion, simply place the dwarf willow in a container before placing it in the shady portion of the landscape.

Dappled willow is a popular choice for locations that offer conditions less than ideal for most plantings.  Adding color and interest to an otherwise drab area of the landscape, this dwarf variety of the willow family will soon become a favorite.



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