DecorativeTrees & Bushes

Grow & Care Guide for Japanese Willow Tree

pink willow tree

Japanese willow tree (Salix Integra ‘Haruko-Nishiki’) is a really attractive addition to any garden. It is a winner of the Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society. It’s sometimes called dappled willow, flamingo willow, or pink willow tree due to the color of the foliage. Japanese willow tree is native to Japan, the western half of North America, Korea, China, and southeastern Siberia.

A Japanese willow tree is a small tree or a shrub. It is colorful in many ways throughout all seasons. In spring, it will be almost completely pink, and towards the summer the leaves of pink willow trees will become creamy-white and green. In autumn the leaves will become yellow and fall to the ground. It even provides color in winter, as stems of pink willow trees become red.

japanese willow tree
Japanese willow tree Source: F.D Richards

Japanese willow trees usually grow up to 4 to 6 feet tall (120 to 180 cm) with a spread of 5 to 7 feet (150 to 210 cm). They perform great as small hedges, privacy screens, and borders and look magnificent near ponds or small rivers. I would go as far as to say, this small tree looks terrific in any setting.

I’m sure you want to buy and plant this tree already, but before you do, we guide you to do it properly. In this article we expand your knowledge on Japanese willow tree – what climate it prefers, how to water it, when and how to prune it, how to propagate it and more.

Grow & Care

Pink willow tree is easy to grow & care for, but it does require some pruning to look magnificent. It is deer tolerant and grows in full sun and partial shade. However, there are a few pests to keelookout out for. Japanese willow tree is most colorful in areas that have cool summers.

The Coyote Willow

In the USA this beautiful small tree is sometimes called the coyote willow. The reason for this is that coyotes tend to dig dens in the thickets of these trees.


Like a lot of trees, the pink willow tree thrives in the sun but can tolerate partial shade. In regions where summers get quite hot, it might even prefer some shade. Sunlight is necessary for its beautiful and colorful foliage.


Dappled willow can be grown in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9, but it shines in zones 4-6 due to the cool temperatures during summers. When it comes to humidity this particular tree is not very picky, so you do not have to worry about that.

pink willow tree
Pink willow tree Source: F.D Richards

Soil & Fertilizer

The best soil for pink willow tree is well-drained, moist and rich in organic materials. When trying to grow Japanese willow in arid climates, provide a layer of mulch around it to prevent evaporation. Ensure the stem does not touch organic mulch to prevent diseases.

Pink willow trees are quick growers and usually do not need any fertilizer. If you cannot be persuaded otherwise, for a young tree feed it a tablespoon of granulated slow-release fertilizer (10-10-10) annually and water it after. Next year you can feed it two tablespoons and for a mature plant four tablespoons.


It is tough to say, how much to water this tree. A good indicator is the dryness of the soil, it should be moist at all times, but not soggy. In hot and dry weather, Japanese willow tree probably needs to be watered deeply once a week.


Japanese willow tree should be pruned in late winter or early spring. Pruning encourages new growth and more colorful foliage. Pink willow tree doesn’t mind being pruned, so do not feel bad. Pruning is also good to prevent the tree growing too big for your taste or setting.

Salix Integra 'Hakuro-Nishiki'
Red stems of Salix Integra ‘Hakuro-Nishiki’ Source: Leonora


If you already have one and want at least one or two more, it will not be a problem. Pink willow trees are easy to propagate:

  1. Use a sharp tool to take a 6-10 inch softwood cutting in spring
  2. Fill the container with drainage holes with good quality potting soil
  3. Place the cutting in a container
  4. Your new willow tree is ready to be planted permanently after you can see the roots through drainage holes

Pests & Diseases

Unfortunately, a myriad of diseases and pests can affect this plant. Aphids, leaf beetles, sawflies, and caterpillars are the pests you should look out for. Use insecticides when you see a lot of them on your beautiful small tree. The bigger pests like caterpillars or beetles can be removed by hand.

Crown call, leaf spots, scab, rust and cankers are diseases that distrupt the well-being of Japanese willow tree. Most of theses diseases can be treated with fungicides or pruning.


The pink willow tree is a beautiful, award-winning addition to any garden. It has tricolored foliage and is easy to grow and care for. Let it enjoy some sun and keep its soil nicely moist!

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