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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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Monday - June 15, 2009

From: Hampstead, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: What is wrong with my Weeping Willow?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I have a weeping willow tree for about 7 years. It's about 50 feet high and the bark is separating and it starting to drip and collect on trunk bottom a suds type substance. Looks like soap suds. The tree is about 40 % less dense then previous years. What do you recommend?

ANSWER:

Weeping willow, Salix babylonica is a native of China. While it is much-loved for its elegance when healthy, it is notorious for its many problems. Any number of insects, bacteria,  and fungi also love weeping willows. Moreover, the fast-growing tree has very weak wood which is highly susceptible to breaking, especially during high winds.

The Michigan State University Extension has published a bulletin describing disease problems with willows, and this issue of Hortiscope from the North Dakota State University Extension Service has a list of questions along with answers from people who are having troubles with willow trees that could prove helpful.

It is very difficult, if not impossible to diagnose plant disease problems unless you can actually look at the plant. I am suggesting a source of help closer to home; the  office of the University Maryland Extension in Carroll County. This is the second question regarding weeping willows from Carroll County this week, so something may be going on up there.

 

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