Hakuro Nishiki

Hakuro Nishiki & Lenora Pearl in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Hakuro Nishiki & Lenora Pearl Iris (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

I grow several willows, some native (pussy willow-salix discolor) and some non-native.  Dwarf willows by nature are relatively easy to care for, BUT, and it’s a big but, they do require regular pruning or they quickly become huge and overwhelming.  A very popular dwarf willow is Salix integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’; a variegated form introduced from Japan.  This dappled willow has many attributes to love; from its ease of maintenance, tolerance of soils and crowding, willingness to work with sun or part shade and young stems that provide color when the leaves fall in winter.  I grow it for all of these reasons and for the overall stature and color in the garden.  Each individual leaf is unique with creamy white and green swirled together, but in the spring watch out!  This willow is a stunner when the new growth, tinged in a delightfully complimentary shade of pink, sprouts forth in the spring.  I plant it with iris ‘Lenora Pearl’ and together they put on quite a show.  In the fall, eupatorium’s rosy blooms are accented by the light foliage.

Although the creamy variegation adds enough illumination and interest by itself, I adore the feminine slightly weeping form that adds a soft and gentle dimension to the garden. When other plants are stiff and structured, Hakuro Nishiki shows up to say: “Lighten up everyone” … literally!

Hakuro Nishiki Willow in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Hakuro Nishiki Willow (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

If you are willing to take the time to prune several times a season, cut it back early spring to about 3 – 4′ high.  However, if you would rather not fuss, cut it back to about a foot and by the summer it will be about 4- 5′ tall.  I choose to prune taller as my Hakuro is in a spot in the garden between hydrangea ‘Limelight’ and another willow; I like the balance of heights and am willing to prune as frequently as needed to maintain some semblance.  Frequent pruning also promotes more of the pink growth throughout the seasons.

Hakuro is hardy in zones 5-7 and will easily grow over 6′ tall and wide if you want it to.  It is a fabulous companion to other shrubs and perennials of all sizes. Give it a spot in your garden, you won’t be disappointed!


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