Name: Salix integra ‘Hakuro-nishiki’ aka dappled willow
Type of Plant: This willow can be purchased in shrub or grafted tree form, and my favorite is the small trees. Hardy in zones 4-9, and growing best in sun to part-sun.
Why I love this: Since they are grafted onto another willow trunk, the plants don’t grow too tall. The variegated foliage has tinges of pink in the spring and the leaves are white and green the rest of the season. I’ve had people ask, “How long is this tree in bloom?” since they mistake the white leaves for flowers. This is a plant that brightens up landscapes.
A Word to the Wise: Willows tend to be thirsty plants, so water the shrub or tree form deeply once a week. Don’t hesitate to prune these plants hard in the spring since the new growth is also the most colorful. How to prune? Cut the thickest, oldest stems back into the center of the tree or base of the shrub. If you do this with a third of the total growth in the spring, and follow that with clipping off crossed branches, those that head in toward the center of the plant instead of out away from the center, and finally cutting off any odd looking or out-of-proportion growth. Then you’re done!