Cute and lush, the pink dwarf willow Salix integra

Salix with pink and white leaves

Japanese willow (Salix integra) is a surprising little fellow, both thanks to its cute size and its very alluring appeal.

Key facts to remember

NameSalix integra
Type – Shrub

Height – 3 to 9 feet (1 to 3 m)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – cool

Foliage – deciduous
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.

  • Planting a Japanese willowSalix 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

Care and pruning for dappled willowDappled 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.

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.

Disease and dying off due to heat sometimes kills the tree

Good to know about this pink dwarf willow

Mottled leaves of the Japanese willowA 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.

The most common and well-known variety is Hakuro-nishiki 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. Of course, all Salix integra varieties are part of same family as their much taller cousin, the weeping willow.

A newcomer is the ‘Flamingo’ Salix cultivar, that is also very elegant and is cared for in the same manner.

Hedge with flamingo willowAll these varieties excel as standalones, both in containers and in the garden. An unconventional use that is simply stunning is to include them in a hedge.

As part of a freestyle hedge, it will add brilliant colors for weeks after the trimming!

Smart tip

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.

Aphids on a flamingo willow