Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
1 rating

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

QUESTION:

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?

ANSWER:

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

Protecting a non-native Meyer Lemon from Freezing in Austin
January 05, 2013 - What is the best way to protect my Meyer Lemon tree from freezing Austin weather? It has been planted in my yard for 1 year and is about 4 feet high
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Chocolate Mimosa from Dallas
June 15, 2011 - I have a Chocolate Mimosa I planted last spring. It came back strong this spring but suddenly the leafs have started turning brown and falling off, it gets watered every morning and I don't have a c...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Dietes bicolor leaves brown after freeze in Austin
January 31, 2010 - I live in Austin, and my butterfly iris (Dietes bicolor) that I've had for the last 6 years are all turning brown after the most recent freeze. Should I cut them back, with the thought being they wo...
view the full question and answer

Mexican species Orbexilum melanocarpum.
January 04, 2013 - This is not a question; just a note to supplement a previous MSP post answering a query about a source for Orbexilum. The "mountain pea" that the original questioner was asking about is the e...
view the full question and answer

Non-native bermudagrass in meadow in Allen TX
August 17, 2011 - What is the effect of not killing or removing bermuda grass when converting an area to a prairie meadow in Allen, Texas? Most articles describing how to create and establish a prairie meadow suggest ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.