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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.

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

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Wednesday - June 11, 2008

From: Ada, OH
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Aging non-native weeping willow in Ohio
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We had a weeping willow now for about 15 years and it was doing fine until this summer. It has new branches sort of but a lot of the older ones are dying. There are leaves of course and they are still budding but it looks rather bare. What could be the problem?

ANSWER:

According to our research you are lucky your tree has lived that long. It grows very fast, has brittle limbs, and dies fairly young. This subject has come up several times this year, and we would like to refer you to a Mr. Smarty Plants previous question that we think will cover your situation, also. Please note that question was from Georgia, and that the willow is not considered invasive in Ohio, either. However, this USDA Plant profile of Salix x sepulcralis doesn't show it even growing in Ohio, so that's probably why it's not invasive. It would indicate that the temperatures are not good in Ohio for the weeping willow so, again, you are probably fortunate it lived this long.

Perhaps you would be willing to consider a native tree that might serve as a replacement for your weeping willow. We went to Recommended Species, clicked on Ohio on the map, and narrowed our search by clicking on tree for habit, perennial for duration. You can use the same method to make your own selection of trees or shrubs, and then go to our native plant suppliers site, type in your town and state in the Enter Search Location box, and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape professionals in your area.

Carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam)

Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)

Hamamelis virginiana (American witchhazel)

Ilex opaca (American holly)


Carpinus caroliniana

Carya ovata

Hamamelis virginiana

Ilex opaca
 

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