Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Sunday - August 03, 2008

From: Indiana, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Dry, brown leaves on non-native weeping willow
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello! I live in Pennsylvania I have 5 weeping willows I planted 3 years ago. All seemed well until last week I noticed suddenly one looks like it might be dying!? All the leaves are dry & brown. The other trees look fine & I want to be sure to stop this from happening to them. THANK YOU for your help

ANSWER:

If it's not No. 1, "What's wrong with my weeping willow?" is right up there close to the top of most frequently asked questions to Mr. Smarty Plants. On today's slate, alone, there are three questions. If you search on "weeping willow" in the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants section, you get ten possibilities. The problem is, the question is the wrong question asked at the wrong time. We wish that gardeners would ask "Should I plant a weeping willow?" BEFORE they purchase and plant it. Non-native to the United States, Salix x sepulcralis is a hybrid of a Chinese species (Peking willow) and a European species (white willow), and is said to grow in Zones 5 to 8 in the United States. It is weak-wooded, fast-growing and, therefore, short-lived. It has aggressive roots, can lift sidewalks and interfere with sewer lines, often growing on soil surface, making a problem with mowing. It is susceptible to a number of pests and diseases, and notorious for littering the ground beneath it. See this University of Florida Extension website on Weeping Willows for more information. Also, in case you think we're exaggerating, see this Q&A from North Dakota State University Extension on weeping willows.

Both of the referenced websites will give you a number of things that could be wrong with your willow. The only site we found that specifically mentioned dry, brown leaves on willows is this one from the Government of Canada Forest Invasive Alien Species Willow Scab. The scabs, recognizable by the browned or blackened foliage they cause in infected trees, are fungus diseases. In the case of willow scab, a fungus is the cause. The fungus initially attacks the leaves from the twig up, turning it blackish or brown, and the leaf dies. It can be followed by canker and, ultimately, the death of the tree. On the spot examination by a competent arborist is probably the only way to know what is really causing the problem and what to do about it. You might also contact the Penn State Cooperative Extension Service for Indiana County.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Pruning non-native Japanese maple
June 03, 2008 - Can you tell me how to properly prune a Japanese maple?
view the full question and answer

Heirloom plants for Gault Homestead in Austin
April 15, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, The Gault Homestead at 2106 Klattenhoff in the middle of Wells Branch Subdivision is to be planted with heirloom or heritage plants soon. There is some sun for the planter bo...
view the full question and answer

Problems with yellow lantana in Smoaks SC
June 05, 2010 - My yellow lantanas are about five years old - big and beautiful, but beginning last year, the blooms are small and part of the tiny petals are brown or black. Can you tell me what I can do about this ...
view the full question and answer

Care of non-native potato tree (Solanum macranthum or Lycianthes rantonnetii)
June 20, 2009 - I live in Phoenix. I bought what was called a potato tree. Purple flowers with blooms quite often. It seemed a little puny and twiggy so I fed it Miracle Grow. It is now gorgeous with lovely leave...
view the full question and answer

Alternative for Pittosporum limelight
March 22, 2012 - Is it ok to plant a Pittosporum limelight by pool? Don't want bees! Needs to be 6 feet. Thanks.
view the full question and answer

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