En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - May 19, 2008

From: Alabaster, AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Deterioration of non-native weeping willows in Alabama
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have a small lake behind my house. 8 years ago we planted two nice weeping willow trees, one on each corner of our yard down toward the lake. One started looking bad last year and we cut all the dead growth out. This year, the other one is looking bad...a lot of dead growth at the top where we can't reach. It is so thin now. We had a drought last year, but they should have had plenty of water from the lake. What could be the problem? What could be the issue?


Although there are 54 members of the Salix genus that are natives to North America, the weeping willow, or salix x sepulcralis, is not one of them. It is a hybrid of the Chinese Peking Willow and European white willow. This USDA Forest Service website has some more information on the weeping willow, including the fact that it is considered invasive in several states, but not in Georgia. The same site says that the tree is susceptible to several diseases and insect damage. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the protection, planting and propagation of plants native to North America, so we do not have information on this tree in our Native Plant Database. However, we are always glad to try to provide information on plant care for plants already in the landscape.

One thing we learned is that the weeping willow is a very fast-growing tree, growing up to 8 ft. a year. It also has very brittle stems-those two factors combined can cause a tree to start to break down. Fast-growing trees are usually a bad idea, as they will age quickly and begin to deteriorate. Go to this introductory page to the Alabama Cooperative Extension Services for Shelby County. There are several links and contact information for agriculture and forestry. If one of the diseases or insects that plague weeping willows is causing problems in your area, the Extension Service office should have some information on it.

Here is a page of images of salix x sepulcralis.


More Non-Natives Questions

Mexican feathergrass from Pflugerville, TX
January 23, 2013 - How deep are the roots of Nassella tenuissima? I'm looking for something that could possibly discourage my neighbors' bermuda grass from encroaching into my native plantings.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Kokias
January 27, 2005 - I am searching for seeds of different Kokias (Kokia cookei, K. drynariodes and K. kauaiensis) and Thespesias (Thespesia grandiflora, T. thespesioides, T. nerifolia and T. popul...
view the full question and answer

poor blooming on (non-native) plumbago
June 14, 2011 - I recently purchased several blue Plumbago plants that were covered in blooms. We planted them in our front beds that receive about 5 hours of morning sun then afternoon shade. I have watered them eve...
view the full question and answer

Wintering over a Cuphea ignea in Iowa Zones 4-5
August 29, 2006 - I have a Cigar Plant, or a cuphea. I live in Iowa and need to know how to take care of this plant. Does this plant die and that's it, or does this plant come back year after year?
view the full question and answer

Absence of blooms in non-native Rosa rugosa
June 30, 2008 - I have a rosa rugosa in my yard that was here when I moved in..and it has never bloomed. It is in a sunny spot, but there are never any flowers..not even a single bud on this trailing plant. I cut it ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center