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 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 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.