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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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Monday - June 15, 2009

From: Taneytown, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: My weeping willow is not doing well - Taneytown, MD
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I have a weeping willow tree. It is in a very wet place, soil gets plenty of water, but the bark on the tree is raising up and blistering up. The leaves are very sparse on it this year. I can't see any insect infestation but I don't know what to look for. This tree is 20 feet tall and a beautiful addition to my yard, I would really hate to lose it. Is there anything I can do for it?

ANSWER:

Weeping willow, Salix babylonica is a native of China, and as a non-native, it falls outside the range of our expertise here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. 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.

It is very difficult, if not impossible to diagnose plant disease problems unless you can actually look at the plant. Therefore I am suggesting a source of help closer to home; the  Carroll County office of the University Maryland Extension. 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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