Dappled willow (Salix integra) is a surprising little fellow with flamingo-like foliage.
Key facts to remember
Name – Salix integra
Family – Salicaceae
Type – Shrub
Height – 3 to 9 feet (1 to 3 m)
Foliage – deciduous
Exposure: full sun – Soil: cool – Flowering: March
Planting your dappled or flamingo willow
Best is to plant in Fall to promote root development before winter, thus ensure optimal recovery from transplant shock. If potted or in containers, you can plant in spring without any risk.
- Salix integra fears excessive sun and places that are scorching in Summer.
- Dry wind should be avoided or protected against.
- It loves feeling a little shade from above during the hottest hours of the day, which helps it keep its cute pink and white colors.
- Follow our planting advice.
Watering regularly over the first year after planting is important, and if you’re growing pink flamingo salix in pots you’ll have to water diligently during its entire life. Salix integra can resist the cold very well, down to 5°F (-15° Celsius), which makes it a very hardy shrub.
Making flamingo willow cuttings
Taking cuttings is the easiest and fastest method to propagate your dappled willow.
- Collect the cuttings at the end of summer on partly hardened wood (neither newest nor oldest growth).
- Remove the leaves on the lower 4 inches (10 cm) and cut the tip off.
- If possible, dip the base of the cuttings in powdered rooting hormones.
- Stand the integra willow cuttings in special cutting soil mix.
- Keep the cuttings near light, but never in direct sunlight.
- Keep the substrate a little moist.
- Transplant your cuttings in the following Spring.
Caring for and pruning flamingo dappled willow
Dappled willow is a shrub that doesn’t require much care, especially when it’s properly settled in.
- Prune severely at the end of winter to force appearance of new white and pink leafage.
- Eliminate dead branches regularly, if needed.
Among the diseases and parasites that infect this Salix integra willow, note that aphids are quite common, and there’s a slew of fungal diseases, too. If well fed, watered, with proper soil, your pink-leaved willow will have all it needs to fend these diseases and insects off on its own.
Most often, since the original plant is rather vulnerable to disease, the cultivar is grafted on a rootstock from another type of willow. Typically, goat willow (Salix caprea) rootstock will resist disease well, and the tree remains dwarfish and slow-growing.
Dappled willow hedge
It is an easy-to-control shrub that will follow the shapes you trim it into. It’s not very common to use Salix integra in a hedge, but the result is simply stunning.
As part of a freestyle hedge, it will add brilliant colors for weeks after the trimming! As a hedge, this lovely willow will truly beautify your neighborhood.
- Plant each shrub 2½ feet apart (75 cm).
- Trim at the end of winter for a fresh, lush spring.
- Prune again at the mid-summer for a second splash of color early fall, but only do so on established shrubs (older than 4-5 years).
Leaves drying up and falling
Being a willow, this tree needs lots of water.
It’s important to water often, especially when the weather is hot and dry.
Soil should not be too soggy, though, or fungal diseases might develop.
Check that your willow isn’t caught in regular crosswinds, such as around the corner of a building. Hot air on warm days, heated by sun along walls, will course through your flamingo willow and dry exposed portions out.
Good to know about this pink dwarf willow
A beautiful shrub, Salix integra can bear leaves of beautiful colors from Spring to Fall. Selected by horticulturists, it also provides nice blooming in Spring: cute catkins that look like soft downy buds. What many find most appealing is its white and pink mottled foliage that appears in Spring, and the fact that it keeps a tight bearing and shape over the whole year.
All Salix integra varieties are part of same family as their much taller cousin, the weeping willow.
Types and varieties of Salix integra
The most common and well-known variety is ‘Hakuro-nishiki’ willow. It is native to Japan, which explains one of this tree’s common names: Japanese dappled willow.
- Easy to care for, this variety is perfect for standalone planting, or together with other shrubs in a shrub bed.
- It is also very well suited to growing in pots on your balcony or terrace.
A newcomer is the ‘Flamingo’ Salix cultivar (patent #17,490). It is also very elegant and is cared for in the same manner. Leaves are a richer, pinker hue when they first unfurl.
All these varieties excel as standalones, both in containers and in the garden, and they’ll do well in hedges, too.
To keep the soil moist and cool, make sure to spread mulch at the foot of the tree. Be careful when planting it against a wall: the heat reflected off the wall might dry the delicate leaves out. Similarly, avoid windy locations.
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