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.

43 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.

  8. I have recently bought two new Salix Flamingo plants from different suppliers a week apart. We had a hot spell when i first bought them so I watered every day and left the pots in saucers with water topped up each evening. The leaves on the first plant are turning brittle and brown just below the new pink shooting leaves. I have also noticed that the second plant is starting to do the same some 10days after the first so I am certain I am causing the issue.
    I have planted the first plant in a permanent pot but kept the 2nd plant in it’s current pot as I am undecided where exactly to put it – bought on a whim as I love it!
    It cannot be underwatering as they are always moist, so could I be overwatering them, or could it be they have both been shocked and will recover? I no longer stand them in water and watering every other day or less, as the last few days have turned cooler again.
    Also, if you think a fertiliser will help, can you suggest which one, and how often, but also how soon after application should the brown leaves stop forming?
    I am not very good with plants but really want these two to thrive….or at least stop turning their leaves brown!
    They are both in plastic pots, would they prefer pottery ones, or is that irrelvant?

    • Hi Alison,

      Thanks for getting in touch!

      I think there are a few issues that are affecting your plants:

      -The hot spell at the beginning is very likely the cause of the brown leaves. Salix Flamingos do best in sunny positions, but they can be scorched by the sun by prolonged exposure which gives you brown leaves. If it is getting very hot outside, move them temporarily to a shadier position to keep the leaves safe.

      -Alongside this, it’s likely that you have overwatered your plants at the beginning as well by leaving them in saucers. They do love moist soil, but bottom watering is not a good way to achieve this as they need good drainage via drainage holes in the bottom.

      I was initially expecting transplant shock to be the issue, but given how it has affected both plants and one hasn’t been repotted I don’t think this is the case.

      Luckily none of what you have done is going to have a lasting impact. Make sure both plants are out of the saucers and have drainage holes in the bottom, and keep watering so that the soil is moist.

      If the weather gets particularly hot, don’t leave them out in the sun for prolonged periods of time.

      In terms of fertilizer, this will help them grow but it won’t stop brown leaves forming right away. I’m not sure which ones are available to you, but simply choose a ‘complete fertilizer’ – these contain all the necessary nutrients (NPK) and it will say this on the label. I prefer to feed once per month during the summer.

      The pot type isn’t as important, and plastic is actually better for most plants anyway, it’s just important that there is good drainage whilst maintaining a moist soil and keeping them out of the intense sun.

      I’d also recommend pruning any leaves that have turned brown completely – I hope this helps and good luck!

  9. My salix was grafted to be a lollipop tree however the top part appears dead, however there are some suckers at the base of the trunk. Are these okay to leave and let it grow ?

    • Hi,

      You can in theory let the suckers grow, but it’s generally recommended to remove them as they will quickly ‘take over’ your lollipop tree and it will be hard to distinguish them.

      When removing them make sure to get as close to the bottom as possible, even try to pull them out from the root if you can.

      If you simply cut them nearer to the top, it will promote branching and more growth. Another benefit is that if you manage to get some roots out as well, you can plant them separately.

      If you decide to leave them it is fine, but it depends on what type of aesthetic you are going for. I think Salix are best when planted alone, but it’s a personal choice at the end of the day.

  10. Hi
    Please can you kindly assist me. I am extremely worried. My salix was Extremely root bound when I bought it and it look healthy in the florist.
    I reppotted a week on. Now the leaves are dryed and turning brown. There are small buds still on the branches. How can I save it?

    • Hi Pauline!

      There are a few things that could be causing the issue, mainly the root bound state and transplant shock.

      Before you repotted, did you make an effort to loosen up the roots? If the plant was severely root bound, you need to use your hands to pull the roots and loosen them up – in severe cases you may need to cut into the roots and pull to force them to become free.

      It may seem like you are damaging the roots, but it’s the only way to promote root growth in root bound Salix plants.

      If you repotted without loosening the roots, it’s likely that it won’t be forming new roots in the soil or promoting root growth which could explain the problems you are having.

      Otherwise, if you did loosen the roots well and planted in suitable soil in a good location, then it’s likely that transplant shock is to blame. This happens with most Salix’s when you repot them and isn’t something to worry about.

      The only other thing is if you have placed it in a location with much more direct sunlight than where it was in the florist. Brown, dry leaves are a classic sign of sun scorch, so if the weather has been particularly hot and you’ve placed it in a place with lots of direct sunlight, this may be to blame.

  11. Hi,

    We recently potted two new Salix plants in our garden, one is thriving but the other is wilting, dried out and the leaves have gone brown. They’re in a perfect sun spot and are being watered plenty.

    Should I trim back all the dead branches and leaves and Hope it comes back?

    • Hi Emma,

      Trimming the dead leaves and branches is a good start, but I would definitely try to figure out why one is fine and the other is struggling.

      Are they both planted in similar positions with the same amount of sunlight? Brown leaves is typically due to sun scorch when the weather is particularly harsh.

      If everything is identical with both plants (soil, drainage, fertilizer, etc), it’s likely that transplant shock is affecting one plant much more than the other, but this is hard to know without knowing the history of both plants.

      In this case you’ll just have to wait for it to recover. Transplant shock won’t be fatal, and it can take a few weeks to see a recovery.

      • We brought them both on Saturday, we think the one that has dried was unwatered and potentially didn’t cope with the move.

        I’ll trim it back and hope for the best, thank you!

  12. Hi, am desperate for your help please. I bought a very healthy Salix Flamingo about 2 months ago arrived very healthy looking in bloom with pretty pink tips. Watered it on arrival for few dats then planted it out in a very sunny spot in my garden all seemed fine, watered it practically every day. It seems to have established itself as have several new shoots coming from branches. I water it more or less every 2 days but about 10 days ago leaves started to go brown and now 95% of the branches have lost their leaves looks very skinny and seems to have stopped growing but new shoots are still appearing. Am i watering too much as its established or not enough and at what stage do you water less frequently. Am devastated as sooo looking forward to seeing it grow as it was doing so well when first planted out ! Any advice is much much appreciated. Thank you.

    • Hi!

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Has there been a heatwave in your area recently? It sounds to me like classic sun scorch.

      It’s pretty hard to overwater a Salix Flamingo, especially if it’s planted in the ground. Since there has been signs of growth as well, I really wouldn’t expect overwatering to be the problem here.

      They thrive in moist soil for their whole lifespan, so if anything you might have been underwatering.

      I recommend that you keep watering so that the soil is moist (schedule varies depending on weather), and prune any dead parts of the plant. Pruning now will hopefully encourage more fresh pink growth later this summer.

      In an ideal world you would move your Salix to provide more shade in heatwaves, but this can be hard to do in practice. I’m certain your Salix will bounce back.

  13. HELP
    my tree didnt make the winter, possible over watering due to drainage holes in the planter. Symptoms are all leaves gone, branches have gone brittle and snap easily. However there are new leaves and signs of life at the at the top.
    How or is it possible to save.



    • Hi Steve,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      The first thing to do is check the trunk near to the soil – if this is soft and rotten, you won’t be able to save the plant.

      However, as there are signs of new growth, I’m assuming this isn’t the case and that recovery is possible.

      I would first remove any dead parts of the plant by pruning dead leaves or branches. After this take a look at the soil, roots and drainage.

      If possible, remove your tree from the soil and inspect the roots. If they are mushy and discolored with a foul odor, they have rotten and will need to be pruned. The rest will need to be treated with a fungicide which you can find at most garden stores.

      I wouldn’t expect this to be the problem given the drainage holes, but there’s a chance that the soil mix wasn’t draining well enough leading to root rot. Either way, it’s worth checking.

      You want the soil to drain well but retain good moisture – drainage holes are important as these let excess water escape, so make sure they are working and not blocked.

      I’d also advise changing the soil to make sure this isn’t a problem – well-draining compost works best.

      After repotting and pruning, give the soil a good water and make sure your tree is placed in an area that receives plenty of sunlight. You can also fertilize at this stage to give it a boost.

      I hope this helps, and good luck.

  14. Hi Joe,
    I’m hoping you can help. I have rescued a 10-12 year old Salix and planted this in my garden in the hope it’s roots will grow and it can live on. Unfortunately one large root shoot that was growing under a fence had to be chopped off, the majority of the root ball is there however, as soon as we planted it its started to droop and started turning gently brown. Also there is damage to the bark, I can fix this with bark repair wax but, I am going to wait to see if it will survive first. Any tips at all? Its still very pink in colour but, I do see the tips starting to turn brown and its looking very sad indeed.

    • Hi Jane,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      The plant will be suffering from transplant shock regardless of the root damage, although this is obviously making the symptoms worse.

      Assuming the damage to the bark is superficial, the plant should be able to survive assuming all the other conditions are right.

      I recommend this article on bark damage which goes into more detail about how serious it is depending on the extent of the damage. Tree wound dressing is generally not recommended, so your plant should be fine as long as the wound is cleaned up properly to prevent disease.

      So make sure the soil that you are using drains well, and that the position isn’t in an area with too much sunlight which could be scorching the leaves and making the browning worse.

      Keep watering the soil so it remains moist but not overwatered and prune any dying parts.

      It’s going to take a while for the plant to recover as it has had both root and bark damage as well as transplant shock, but new roots will start to grow assuming you care for it properly.

      I would also use a complete liquid fertilizer once every month to support new growth.

      Please let me know if there is anything else I can help with, and I hope this helps!

  15. Hi Joe
    We have had our Salix Flamingo tree in a border in our back garden for over 20 years now. We recently noticed that all the leaves had turned brown due to the very dry June month. After thorough watering and giving it some lawn food, some of the green leaves have returned but it is still largely brown. Is there anything else we can do and if the tree is OK when would be the best time to prune it? Thank you

    • Hi Colin,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      It’s very normal for this to happen during dry periods, especially if there has also been lots of intense sunlight and warm weather. It’s likely that your tree has been underwatered, but also the leaves scorched by the sun as well.

      Pruning in the summer is a good idea, but it shouldn’t be as significant as spring pruning. Remove any dead leaves and branches, and trim established branches down slightly (10-20%) to promote new growth.

      Aside from this, just make sure the soil remains moist and stay on top of fertilizing as well.

      In an ideal world, moving your tree to a more shaded location during very hot and dry weather is the best idea, but of course in practice this can be hard to achieve.

      • Hi Joe,
        We had the same problem as Colin Payn. Our well established Salix Flamingo tree blossomed and then in the hot spell in May/June all the leaves started turning brown. I increased the watering but now all the leaves are brown and shrivelled with no green leaves left. Is there a chance it might recover over the winter, or is it dead and we should be thinking of buying a replacement now?

        • Hi Robert,

          I wouldn’t consider buying a replacement. It’s very normal for Salix Flamingos to get scorched during droughts, and it doesn’t mean that the plant will die by any means.

          I’d follow the advice I gave to colin – just keep the soil moist and prune any dead parts, it should recover fine.

  16. Hi Joe
    I have a new Salix Flamingo, planted this spring. Recently some of the stems have gone dark brown/ black and lost all of their leaves. These stems are all on one half of the plant. Should I remove them ? Will the plant recover its shape?

    • Hi Adele,

      Thanks for getting in touch, and apologies for the late reply!

      It sounds to me like one side of the plant has been affected by sun scorch. Make sure you keep watering your plant so the soil is moist (not soggy though!) – this might be more water than you would think, large Salix can handle a bucket or two of water a day.

      Since pruning would greatly affect the shape of your plant, I’d be tempted to leave it for a while to see if they are dead or not. You can tell this by checking underneath the bark, if it is green then it’s still alive.

      With problems that affect half of a plant, it can be tricky to diagnose it exactly so I’ve included a forum thread here – – of the exact same problem you are facing. This one is interesting because it seems that crosswinds could be affecting the rate of evaporation of water.

      Please keep us updated with the progress, I’m interested to see how your plant recovers.

  17. Hi Joe,

    We have 2 flamingo trees for about 3-4 years now. We didn’t have a good summer this year (UK), so currently leaves are green. My question is about trunk of one of my tree. It started to get greenish. Do I need to do anything about it?

  18. hi my salix had very few leaves on this year and i have found lots of brown dead wood in it i have trimed it back to healthy stems and i have started to water it and put fertiliser down do you think this will help bring it back as its the centerpiece of my front

    • Hi Dave,

      As long as there are healthy stems, there is a good chance that it will continue to grow properly. Just make sure you give it the right conditions (lots of water), and try to keep it out of intense sunlight as this can scorch the leaves.


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