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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.

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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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Sunday - August 22, 2010

From: Philadelphia, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Willow woes in Philadelphia, NY
Answered by: Anne Bossart


I have a 2 yr old willow; it is August and it looks like the tree has gone dormant, is this normal?


In order to make an accurate diagnosis of the problem we really need more information about your willow and the situation in which it is planted.

The willow family is a large one with 55 species native to North America but if your willow tree is a weeping willow it is native to China and outside our area of expertise.

That being said, even though your tree was planted two years ago if it is stressed for any reason (not enough water, too much water, extreme heat, for example) it will go dormant early.  I understand that summer has been positively Texas-like in the Northeast this year so it is quite possible that it has simply decided to "pack it in for the season".  If the leaves changed color and fell off much as they do in the fall then yes, the tree has gone dormant in self defense,  If, however, the leaves have turned brown and haven't fallen off, your tree is dead.  I hope the former is your situation.

We recommend you contact your local agricultural extension office to get a more accurate diagnosis of your problem.


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