One of My Favorite Shrubs: Salix integra (Japanese Dappled Willow)

One of My Favorite Shrubs: Salix integra (Japanese Dappled Willow)

One of my favorite shrubs is the Japanese dappled willow otherwise known as Salix integra. This was the first plant I experimented with for making cuttings. Maybe it was this shrub that launched my plant propagation obsession. My in-laws planted a few of these ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ dappled willows in their garden several years ago and I began taking cuttings from them shortly thereafter.

I always knew that willows were able to grow root systems very easily. I started the dappled willow cuttings in nothing more than a jar of water and the roots grew fast. Once I found out how fun and easy it was to make new plants I branched out into other plants. Since those willows I’ve tried various shrubs and perennials with varied success but mostly positive results.

Aside from being my introduction to cuttings another reason I like the Japanese dappled willow is the new foliage. It comes out with reddish-pink tips that eventually fade into its characteristic green and white dappled foliage. Salix integra grows to around ten feet tall and enjoys the same growing conditions as other willows. Good sun and moisture are important for a picture perfect plant but these willows are tough and can tolerate poor conditions. Frequent pruning will grow a bushier plant.

The Japanese willows are now lining one edge of my property. They are small now but as they grow they will fill in and create a beautiful hedge of dappled foliage. All of the willows going into my border hedge, which number around 20, are taken from those original three plants my in-laws planted. I still have quite a few more in pots that need to be re-potted or planted. A little cutting can go a long way!

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Dave has written since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 5 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. I love this plant and what a lucky choice to begin your propagating career. In our garden, the three plants are coppiced, I think that is the word, cut to the ground each year in early spring before the new foliage emerges, so it looks like a pink and white ball. At my daughter’s she had more room and wants the full look of unpruned, that is stunning also. Great plant.

  2. Dave, I planted two of these this spring, and I suspect they’re about to become favorites of mine too. I planted these and along with some other moisture-loving shrubs including a French pussy willow in a boggy area of my yard after our neighbor’s weeping willow tree came down last winter. I hope they’ll help some with the drainage problem that developed as the weeping willow declined, along with restoring our back yard privacy. The weeping willow uprooted some shrubs next to it as it’s own root ball was pulled out of the ground when it fell. I’ll definitely be taking some cuttings of these beautiful shrubs.

  3. In my former life, the first willow tree I grew around a small pond feature came from a branch that had been inadvertently lopped off by the tractor mower. I merely stuck it in the ground, close to the edge of the pond where the earth was soft and wet. It’s now about 20 feet high. 🙂 Yours is very pretty with those delicate pink blooms.

  4. Fantastic – I’ve got one of these but didnt know what it was except a member of the willow family. Feel more informed now

  5. These are much coveted plants amongst gardeners and lucky you to have so many!

  6. I am not sure I have ever seen these before! I like the new growth as it appears to be a bloom!

  7. Dave,

    This is a lovely tree…and I had heard that they rooted easily, too…but you have the touch!


  8. Frances,

    I really like them when they get large and bushy, but keeping them small might be interesting for small spaces. That foliage is fantastic. I’ve seen pictures where they have turned this type of willow into a topiary. I’ll have to experiment with that sometime!


    They are great choices for your moisture retentive area. They should grow quick and help to restore your privacy. In 5 years you will have a 10 foot shrub.


    They sure do grow well and are so forgiving of lack of care. It must be neat to see a tree you planted from a little stick doing so well!


    If you look in the spring you will see some of the similarities in the seed pods or catkins. They are just like the larger weeping willows.


    They grow so well here and are very easy to propagate!


    I bet they are somewhere there in Georgia. Do you have a sunny location for one in your yard?


    They sure are!


    Anybody could root these. Just stick a stick in the ground and let it go!

  9. I bought two of these bushes years ago and potted them because we lived in an apartment..when we bought our house I transplanted them in our new garden in the front of the house, they have grown enourmouse, we loved them and people always comment on them , they are beautiful and keep getting bigger and bigger even though I pruned them each year..Thanks for all the info I shall give cuttings to all my friends and plant more as well
    Lori Canandaigua NY

  10. I love these bushes! We're in zone 5, Finger Lakes region of NY, and one of ours is next to a pond and is probably 12' tall after just planting it 4-5 yrs ago. Thanks for your info here on propagating – I'm trying the cuttings in water to see if we can create a free hedge.

  11. I live along the ocean in Central Florida, any idea on salt tolerance?

  12. Hi Frank,

    I don't have any experience with salt tolerance here in landlocked Tennessee but every source I've found says the dappled willow is salt tolerant.

  13. I have heard that they will enter septic lines. Any info there? They are so pretty!

    1. Very pretty indeed! As with any tree I would avoid anywhere near a septic line just in case. These are shrub willows and while the roots should be as invasive as a regular willow they will do similar things if planted too close.

  14. I saw this Dappled Willow in a Lady's yard, used as a focal point. It was beautiful!
    I must have gasped when she asked me if I wanted a cutting. What do you do with a cutting?
    She walked me thru it, and one year later I have a sweet, 2-foot tall shrub to enjoy for years to come. Just as others have said, put a cutting in water and watch it root.
    Thanks for sharing!

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