Salix Flamingo Tree Dying: Causes And Remedies

The Salix Flamingo tree is aptly named. Its foliage provides you with breathtaking color in the spring and summer, and the red stems are attractive during the winter months – which is why a Salix Flamingo tree dying can be very stressful.

All hope is not lost, however. Read the rest of this article to see the most common reasons for this, and the steps you can take to reverse it.

Salix Flamingo Tree Basics 

The Salix Flamingo is a deciduous broadleaf shrub. It grows to nearly 5 feet, with its spread reaching from 5-7 feet. It is also known as Flamingo willow, Japanese flamingo willow,  and flamingo dappled willow. 

It thrives in moist but well-draining soil that gets plenty of sunlight. Its fast growth requires frequent pruning unless you choose to leave it unpruned, which allows it to arch.

It’s also known as the Salix integra ‘Flamingo’. It is a member of the Salicaceae family

In the spring, it will have delicate pink, green, and white leaves. In the summer, the leaves turn to white and green. 

Signs of Distress 

Before we get into the causes of a sick or dying Salix Flamingo, it’s important to note the most common symptoms. For this tree, brown leaves are the most common sign there’s a problem. 

You may also notice black or brown spots on the leaves, a powdery substance, or stunted growth. If you see these signs, then it’s a sure bet something is wrong with your Salix Flamingo tree. 

The most common problems for the Flamingo are underwatering, willow scab, and powdery mildew. 


Underwatering is the most common cause of problems with the Flamingo willow. It’s a very thirsty plant and needs adequate water to thrive. 

Underwatering will cause the leaves of the tree to become brown. They may also seem brittle or leathery due to a lack of moisture. 

Flamingo willows need well-draining soil that holds moisture. They need to be watered very frequently unless they are near a water source. 

Good drainage is also essential. The top 1 inch of the soil should be moist. 

Reviving an Under Watered Flamingo Willow

The positive aspect of underwatering is that it’s a fairly easy problem to solve. Your willow should perk up and be back to normal very quickly with adequate water. 

First, you’ll need to tackle the immediate water need. If the root ball is very dry, you can soak it in a bucket of water for a few hours. If this isn’t an option, water the willow deeply. 

You’ll need to water the Flamingo willow often, particularly in dry, hot, or windy conditions. About twice a week should be sufficient. The topsoil should never become completely dry. Instead, it should stay moist. 

You can help the tree by adding an inch or two of mulch. This helps retain water and provides some shade for the tree’s roots. 

Flamingo willows grow very well near lakes and ponds because the ground stays moist. However, you should never plan a willow near septic systems or underground pipes. 

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is caused by a fungus. It gets its name because it causes a white substance that looks like mildew on the leaves of your Flamingo willow tree. 

Treating Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is fairly easy to treat. You’ll simply need to kill the mold spores, without damaging your plant. 

One option is to use mouth wash. Wiping the affected areas with mouthwash will remove the spores from the leaves. 

To get rid of powdery mildew, you can create your own fungicide. Mix one tablespoon of baking soda with 1 teaspoon of liquid dish detergent. Mix into a gallon of water, and spray it on the willow. This will kill powdery mold. 

Willow Scab

Willow scab can cause your Flamingo willow’s leaves to turn brown. Eventually, the affected leaves will die. This disease is also caused by a fungus.

Willow scab typically occurs during the spring and rainy season. The tree may also wilt. In the beginning, you’ll notice black or brown spots on the leaves. 

Over time, the affected foliage will wilt and die. If it’s not treated, it will affect the petioles. You’ll see lots of greenish-brown spores on the base of the leaves. These are the mold spores. 

You may also find spores on the underside, veins, and midribs of the leaves. 

Treating Willow Scab 

Willow scab isn’t typically deadly to your Flamingo willow, but it can significantly hinder its growth. It’s important to treat it to avoid further damage to your willow tree. 

First, you’ll need to prune away any infected areas. This includes the stems of infected leaves.

 This slows the spread of the fungus. Be sure to sterilize your pruning shears after each session, to avoid spreading the fungus to other areas of your tree. This can be done with a bleach and water solution. 

The other key to ridding your tree of willow scab is to ensure that it’s healthy. Just like we can fight off diseases when our bodies are healthy, your willow can fight off many diseases when it’s doing well. 

Be sure it has plenty of sun, water, and fertilizer when needed. This will help treat and prevent future infections.  

Next, you can kill the remaining fungus with a fungicide. If your Flamingo willow also has black canker fungus, fungicide treatment is essential. If it’s only willow scab, a fungicide may not be necessary. 


Low temperatures are unlikely to do permanent harm to your Flamingo willow. However, it will lose its leaves when the first frosts come. This is simply part of the plant’s way of surviving the winter. 

Prune it heavily in February, and you’ll be rewarded with lots of new colorful foliage in the spring. 

Final Thoughts on Salix Flamingo Tree Dying

If your Flamingo Willow is struggling, it’s likely being underwatered. If you aren’t watering frequently enough, change your watering practices and see what happens. 

If you see signs of a mold or fungus, you can treat these problems easily as well. The Salix Flamingo is a hardy plant, which makes it great for beginning growers. Give it plenty of water and lots of love, and it will stand the test of time. 

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About Me

Hi, I'm Joe! I'm the head of SEO and content management at Bloom and Bumble. I'm a huge plant lover and over the years my home has become more like an indoor rainforest. It has taken a lot of trial and error to keep my plants healthy and so I'm here to share my knowledge to the rest of the world.

17 thoughts on “Salix Flamingo Tree Dying: Causes And Remedies”

    • Hi Debbie!

      Unfortunately, mushroom-like fungus is usually a sign that things aren’t looking good for your flamingo.

      Depending on how bad the issue is, you can either attempt to treat with a fungicide or take some cuttings and try to root those separately.

      It’s hard to say for certain without an image, so do some research to try to find the exact type of fungus and find a fungicide you can use to treat it; but it will depend on how far the fungus has grown.

    • Hi Debbie,

      Exactly the same has happened to ours and I fear the tree is dead throughout. Very sad for a tree we planted around 8/9 years ago and has flourished throughout


  1. One of our salix hasn’t come into bloom either, I know that some of the branches are alive as it’s green in the middle, we have buds but they are just not flowering. Any help will be appreciated

    • Hi Katie!

      If your salix hasn’t bloomed just yet but you know it’s healthy then it’s usually only a matter of time. I’d recommend checking that the soil has been watered properly so it is moist, and consider using a balanced fertilizer to encourage it to bloom.

      Pruning is also a great way to encourage it to bloom, so try to prune any damaged or dead shoots.

  2. Like Katie’s tree, my little Salix has no leaves yet. It has some very tiny buds- these have been there a while but don’t appear to be developing. I have also noticed some cracks in the trunk. I gave the tree a prune today, the branches are more of a straw colour than green in the middle. Is it the end for my little tree?

    • Hi Virginia,

      The straw color is not very promising as this is usually a way to tell if a Salix is dead; however, it is not 100% reliable, so there is still hope.

      As long as there are healthy buds, there is hope. I would prune to just past the healthy buds and continue watering so that the soil is moist throughout the summer (make sure the soil is well draining). You won’t be able to tell for sure if your Salix is dead until next spring, when it will hopefully bloom for you.

  3. Hi there I’m pretty sure my flamingo Salix is no more. Had it years, Was absolutely fine last summer and didn’t notice any issues however after me finally getting some time in the garden it looks to be pretty dead no leaves and very dry branches just out of the blue is it the very wet cold winter maybe?

    • Hi Penny, thanks for getting in touch.

      There’s a good chance that your flamingo will be ok – it is quite normal for them to lose their leaves during the winter and if it was very harsh it might still be recovering from that.

      I would continue to care for it like normal and I highly recommend pruning it heavily to promote new growth. Make sure the care conditions are ideal, and supplement with fertilizer through the summer and it will hopefully come back to full health.

  4. Hi.
    When I planted my Salix, it had plenty of sun and was doing okay. Sadly, my other plants have overgrown meaning it had virtually no sun getting to it. I dug it up and replanted it last week. Thing is, all the branches were brittle and snapped at the slightest touch. What should I do. Can it recover or has it had it

    • Hi Terry,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      It all depends how long your Salix has had no/very little sunlight for. Salix’s that receive little to no sunlight under develop and eventually die, but this doesn’t happen overnight.

      If all of the branches are brittle it sounds to me like it has died, but there is still a chance that the main part of the plant is still alive. If the main stem has also gone brittle then it’s almost impossible for a recovery.

      All you can really do is get rid of any branches that are clearly dead and make sure you give it plenty of water. You could also try using a fertilizer to boost the growth and see what happens over the next few weeks or months.

      If there are signs of new growth then it will make a full recovery, but if nothing seems to work it may have gone past the point of recovery.

      Please keep me updated, and best of luck!

  5. Hi, I planted my flamingo two months ago, and it was very healthy… But now it seems to be losing its leaves. I do water it in the evening, but not every day! Have I done something wrong? I keep reading it’s a thirsty tree, so I’m not sure? Can you please advise as this was a birthday present from all my friends I have decorated it with solar lights which are on copper wire have I done something wrong?

    • Hi Rosemary!

      There are a few things that could be causing this issue. Since it has only been two months, there’s a good chance that your Flamingo is still adapting to its new environment and the leaf drop is a sign of shock.

      You need to be watering enough to keep the soil moist and never let it dry out properly. It’s a good idea to use a layer of mulch in the soil to keep it nice and moist – watering issues are very common for this plant so make sure you are meeting its needs.

      I doubt the lights will be having any impact unless they are heating up significantly, so I would personally avoid using them just to be on the safe side or at least eliminate that they are a problem in the first place.

      Aside from that, make sure that it is getting enough sunlight & consider using a fertilizer. Salix’s can tolerate quite a lot of sunlight and this is a great way to promote new growth alongside using fertilizer.

  6. I’ve had my Salix integra ‘Hakuro-nishiki’ for 6 years and has seemed ver happy however this years the leaves are much smaller and sparse, but a some showing signs have pink tips. I didn’t prune it back only cutting off tips and the dried out parts, we also had record low -12c last winter in South West England .
    I have been feeding it and watering more regularly in last couple of weeks. Could you please advise how I can encourage leaf growth recovery..I’d hate to lose it.
    Thank you.

    • Hi Felix!

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      -12c is getting right down to the cold tolerance for this type of Salix, so my assumption is that it has been damaged by the cold, and this would explain why it hasn’t bloomed like usual this Spring.

      As there are some pink tips it sounds like your plant has simply missed this bloom but will continue growing normally from here.

      At this point the best advice is to prune properly. As your Salix is 6 years old the root system is well developed so it should be able to withstand pruning without any problems.

      As before, my advice is this:

      You’ll want to shorten shoots by around two thirds by cutting above a bud, and remove any dead/diseased branches. You should also remove shoots from the stem as well.

      This will encourage growth and your plant should be back to normal for next Spring – there’s also a good chance that you will have a second mini-bloom later in the year as well, especially as you are on top of fertilizing and watering, and that the weather in the UK looks favorable for it currently.

  7. Hi. May I trim off the extra long stems now? (May/June) only to create a nice shape-only few bits for now. Many thanks.

    • Hi Gill,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Now is a good time for pruning to encourage future growth and better blooms. You’ll want to shorten shoots by around two thirds by cutting above a bud, and remove any dead/diseased branches. You should also remove shoots from the stem as well.


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