Willow

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Willow

Postby JohnD » 12 May 2006 13:26

Our neighbour has a willow about five feet tall that has flourished for several years until just recently. It budded in the early spring but is now virtually dead. The bark has also started to peal or has been attacked on the lower trunk. Is there any hope for it? If so what remedies are available?
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Postby gardening_guru » 14 May 2006 14:43

Hello John,

I think the first thing to do is to clarify whether the Willow is actually dead or not. Using a sharp knife, scrape under the bark and see if the wood is green underneath. If the wood is green the plant is alive, if it’s brown the plant is dead. If the plant is hanging on to life, I would suggest the only option is to prune it hard and see how it responds. Some Willows will respond vigorously if you prune them 6 inches from the soil level, unless it has been grafted of course, then the only positive response you will get will be from the rootstock.

If the plant is dead, it’s time for the post mortem. We need to find out why it died, so that we don’t get a similar result when replanting. Willows (Salix sp.) need a very moist site, they are also very susceptible to aphid attack, and aphids often pass on viruses and other diseases. Was any pruning done which could have promoted lots of young growth, that would have been particularly prone to aphid attack? Willows are also prone to Honey Fungus,

You can appreciate, it’s not easy for me not having seen this Willow but from what you have told me, my suspicion is the Honey Fungus option. I would dig the Willow out (get as much of the root as possible) I would then think about something else to plant there. If you or your neighbour posts the list of possible new plants on the Forum, I will tell you if any of the options are particularly susceptible to Honey Fungus or not.

Hope I have been of some help,

George.
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Postby JohnD » 07 Jun 2006 20:39

We peeled the bark back and it does look dead above the graft. Below the graft it is sprouting shoots and new growth. Is it worth persevering, or just lopping off below the graft - we assume its just an ordinary willow?
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Postby gardening_guru » 11 Jun 2006 19:29

Hello again,

I’m not sure what the rootstock Salix (Willow) species would be but it would be interesting to cut it back to the rootstock shoots and see what develops. I doubt if the rootstock will have any horticultural merit compared to the grafted material. I would give up on the graft, it sounds as if it is dead. If you do decide to keep the rootstock material, remember that Willows are very thirsty plants and will need a lot of watering in this time of drought.

Regards, George.
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