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Help: Salix Integra (Flamingo Willow) Tree looks like it is dying

So, firstly I am extremely new to gardening and only started this year once I got a Bonsai kit and then ventured into what else we can grow and then then this spread to the garden.

Myself and the wife purchased the Salix Integra tree to be potted in our front garden area as the previous palm which was left from previous tenants was dead so wanted something new.

The garden is south facing at the front of our garden and we planted it around April time this year (2020). It was doing well throughout the summer but lately is starting to get brown crusty leaves which are falling off and also some of the branches are starting to look brittle. I have seen mixed messages online saying we should let it develop for the first year but I am worried if we do nothing to it, it will die before next Spring.

I am wondering if it is because it is getting later in the year and also whether we need to move it for winter also.

Any advice would be great and please see attached picture, can attach more if needed.

Thanks in advance.


  • Salix are very thirsty trees, and we've had hot dry days for a while now. It desperately wants a drink! 

    It's hard to tell from the photo but it looks like your salix is either in a pot, or in the blue ring thing which in turn sits on concrete, under the blue slate stuff? If that's correct, both of those will add to your watering challenge.

    As a start, slowly pour a lot of water around the base of the tree (start with 20 litres or so). The ground may be so dry that the water runs off or doesn't sink in - if this happens, slowly pour a couple of litres then wait 30 mins, repeat 4 or 5 times. Alternatively get a soaker hose on it. Speed of watering is really important if the ground is bone dry. You'll need to do this every day while the weather is hot and dry, until your tree recovers.

    It'll be useful to know what is under the stones and concrete around your tree.
  • Hi.

    Thank you for such a swift response. So the tree is potted and the blue vase is what is holding it. It has 3 holes at the bottom to allow overwatering to flow out.

    The pot sits on a concrete slab with surrounding slate. The rest of the cobbles etc as sitting on tarpaulin so nothing in the front other than the tree is live as such. This was how the area was when we moved in.

    I hope that makes sense. But based on what you have said, it requires lots of watering?

    Kind regards.

  • amancalledgeorgeamancalledgeorge South LondonPosts: 1,736
    It will only look better in a much larger pot or being planted in the ground. It is unfortunate how they are becoming popular as front garden accents, as they are difficult plants to look after in a container and probably a very frustrating purchase for lots of beginner gardeners around the country.  
    To Plant a Garden is to Believe in Tomorrow
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,520
    Won't last long in that wee pot I'm afraid. 
    They aren't really suited to pots without a lot of knowledge and attention to keep them thriving, as @amancalledgeorge indicates. 
    If you can get it a much bigger container, and get it in a shady position, that will help. Some shade will help prevent it drying out too quickly. Copious watering until it's dormant and autumn/winter rain will keep it happy over winter. 
    Then in spring, you need to refresh the top layer of soil. It needs to be a soil based medium for keeping it in a pot, not just compost. That will just dry out and be worse than anything for it. In dry spells, it would be worth sitting it on a saucer, so that any water going through can be soaked up by it.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 23,540
    Agree with the others.  It's a willow and if you think where willows grow best - riverbanks, lakesides, marshy areas - you'll realise it's never going to thrive in a pot as it wants to get its roots down deep and find water.

    Assuming it recovers if you follow the advice above about watering, you need to give it a much bigger pot with soil based compost or, best of all, get it in the ground but not near any walls or underground pipes.    Keep it watered after re-planting.

    Next spring, using clean, sharp secateurs, remove to their base against the main stem any branches which don't leaf up.  Keep it watered in dry spells to keep it happy, even if it's in the ground, and it will need 10 litres a time, poured slowly avery day, and not just a dribble.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Thank you all for your advice on the above. I will definitely get a bigger pot. We were advised when we purchased the tree we were informed it would be fine in a pot as a topiary tree/plant so that was sort of where we went with it.

    As said, I am new to all this so its a very large learning curve for me. I generally thought just plant and everything thrives but realised quite early on, this is not the case for various plants.

    Thank you all again and I will take all what has been said on board.

    Kind regards.

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 23,540
    Garden centre staff are there to sell you plants and pots and do not usually have horticultural qualifications.   

    If you're sticking with a pot, make sure it's 3 times as big as the one you currently have, use good quality John Innes no 3 type compost with about 25% MPC for moisture retention.   Remember that these composts only have feed for about 90 days max so you'll need to topdress every spring and give liquid feeds once a week in between ordinary waterings.  A mulch of pebbles, chipped bark or expanded clay pellets will help retain moisture and keep down weeds.

    Soak the current pot well to make it easy to lift the plant and then tease out the roots with your fingers or a hand fork to encourage them to spread rather than carrying on round and round in circles.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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