En Español

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?

Share

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - June 03, 2008

From: Sugar Land, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native weeping willow losing leaves
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have a willow tree (weeping), which sprung up naturally about 12 years ago. It has done very well until this summer. After its bloom in late March, it is losing its leaves again..turning yellow and falling off. At the same time the seed pockets, which used to fall off, are popping open and spitting cotton all over the grass. This has been occurring for about 3 weeks now. Can you tell me what is wrong with my tree and what I should do about it? Thanks!

ANSWER:

We have received several requests for help with the non-native weeping willow over the past few years. Rather than repeat ourselves, let us refer you to this previous answer on the endurance and lifespan of weeping willows. This USDA Forest Service article, "Weed of the Week", on the Salix x sepulcralis or weeping willow will give you some more information on the undesirable characteristics of this tree. There are a number of pests that cause problems in the weeping willow. The tree can be very invasive and its mats of roots can be damaging to waterways.

However, we believe that your present phenomenon of "cotton all over the grass" is actually the tree seeding. The small seed capsules have long silky hairs that attach to one end like a parachute, and the seeds begin to drop in late Spring or early Summer. And, the leaf loss may be due to the unusually high temperatures and low rainfalls we have been experiencing this year in Texas. Remember, the willow is basically a "water" tree, often growing at the very edge of a stream or lake. If you want to keep the tree alive, you should probably do some supplemental watering. Or, you could let Nature take its course, and if the tree indeed dies, replace it with native trees and/or shrubs that will require less maintenance, water, and fertilizer because they are native and adapted to the conditions where they grow.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Strange produce from non-native lemon seed in Houma LA
April 03, 2010 - I grow a lemon tree from a seed. I grafted it from the same tree a year or so later. It is 15 years old and it only produce one year. The question is, the year it produce, the fruit was a pink grap...
view the full question and answer

Vine Choices Scarce in Beaverton Oregon
June 08, 2012 - Hi, I am looking for a hearty vine that we could use to cling to and cover a cement wall that is about 8 feet tall and 30 feet long. It is on the south side of our house but never gets direct sunli...
view the full question and answer

Arborvitae for house plant from Austin
August 15, 2013 - I am a Northerner transplanted to Austin, TX. While I love Austin it feels like many of the plants & trees I came to love up north won't grow here at all. Could I grow an arborvitae in my home as a...
view the full question and answer

Blocking stolons of St. Augustine grass
July 25, 2008 - I have St. Augustine in my yard, and I am sick of edging the stolons that grow onto the sidewalk and driveway. Is there any way to stop the stolons or block them so that I can just mow and throw away ...
view the full question and answer

Non-native jade plant from Pauline SC
August 24, 2012 - Do jade plants grow in South Carolina; if, so where?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center