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Plants I Love: Salix Integra (Willow)

If you have an area in your yard that is always a little wet, like I do, you can grow Salix integra, my favorite willow. My variety is ‘Hakuro nishiki’. This plant is practically indestructible. Easy to grow, easy to care for and not fussy about soil; it does not like to dry out, and will even tolerate a little standing water. Because mine are planted in a wet area, I never need to water them.

Deer-resistant variety of willow, Hakuro nishiki

Three years ago I planted eight of them in a row, exactly 6 feet apart, almost like a hedge providing a transition between the meadow grasses and the woods behind (see my video). Early each spring I cut them back to about 2 feet from the ground because the fast growing new growth is what makes this plant distinctive. The new growth is white with hints of salmon at the tips, on variegated branches. It remains distinctive for at least 4 weeks and then the foliage begins to fade to a soft green. It’s still pretty but not as much of a stand out at that point. This plant is deciduous and loses its leaves in the winter.

They will get quite large (at least 5 feet tall and wide), so if you want them to grow to their full size don’t cut them back as much. These photos were taken in my yard on June 23rd, in Dutchess County New York. This plant is good in Zones 5-9, and likes full sun for best coloration, but will do well in partial shade. Deer do not seem to like them. They eat many other things in our yard, but have never touched these.

Willow (Hakuro nishiki) used as a landscape border

I have also seen this plant trained into a standard and that can be pretty also.

Pot-trained species of willow, Hakuro-Nishiki

Dorian Winslow is the president of Womanswork, and is passionate about making the best products on the market for women who garden and work outdoors.

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