Newly Registered
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Mar 08, 2009 4:26 pm

Sick Willow

at the end of last summer about half of my weeping willows leaves turned brown and shriveled up. Now the leaves are starting to come out on the tree but no leaves have returned in the area were the died. Should I prune the tree way back or is it a loss?

Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7501
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

I don't know how many of our members are experienced with willow trees, but even an arborist would want to know:

1) how old is the tree (estimate will do)
2) where is the tree (geographically as well as exposure, soil, water availability)
3) exceptional weather (temps, precipitation) last season

before venturing an opinion.

I can't promise anything, but if you provide the basic information, members will be more encouraged to give you their ideas.

Best wishes.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

Senior Member
Posts: 101
Joined: Tue Jan 27, 2009 12:31 pm
Location: Shenandoah Valley

Some advice

The fact that you are seeing fresh growth is positive.

First, closely examine the branches where the shriveling occured. try bending them sharply. If they snap off then they are mostly dead and can be removed.

If it was just the ends of the branches that died, follow them back to where you find supple wood that doesn't "snap" when bent. This will probably coincide with where you are seeing new leaf growth. You will most likely see a color change at the point where this change occurs. Cut off the branches three to 6 inches below this juncture. (in the heathy wood). This process may cause the tree to to be miss shapened so rebalance it by prunning as needed.

Now you need to identify the cause of the problem. It could be as simple as a lack of adequate moisture... especially if it is a tree just planted last season. Investigate the root area to see that soil moisture is adequate. If it was a Balled and Burlaped tree, check to be sure the burlap was removed.

When punning save several of the branches at the point where the dead tissue began. Take these to you extension agent office to see if they can have them tested for a vascular disease such as verticillium. They will need that region where dead and live tisue meet. Take about 6 inches on either side.
hey its me!


Cool Member
Posts: 69
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 9:15 pm

We are all on the same page, but different

Willows, #1, are short lived trees. They are subject to innumerable pests, including willow aphid, spider mites, carpenter worm, canker disease, wetwood rot, drought die-back, etc.
I would ask the same questions: did your trees get PLENTY of water during a drought or did they go through a period of drought stress? How old are the trees? Do you see large holes in the bark (pinkie size)? Did you have a late freeze in your area last spring? Are there any oozing areas on the trees, especially that foam and have an odd smell? All of this stuff can have an effect on an accurate diagnosis.
My answer is NOT to plant willows...

Return to “Trees, Shrubs, and Hedges”