The tricolor willow (Salix integra ‘Hukuro-nishiki) is a lovely garden shrub, but when grown into tree form, it is transformed into a stunning focal point in the garden.
The multi colored leaves are a mix of light pink, fresh green, and white which are borne along the many stems giving a light and airy look to the tree.
In spring the tree is covered with a flush of bright pink from the new leaves. As the summer progresses the leaves add some green and the whole tree turns a pleasing burnt orange in fall giving three season color appeal.
The trunk of the tricolor willow tree is about 3 feet high and sits below the colorful foliage which can be loosely trimmed to arch over into a weeping form, or trimmed into a more formal topiary ball.
The tree enjoys full sun but will tolerate a slightly shady position of needed. As with most willows, the tricolor is hardy from zone 5 thru 9. They also appreciate plenty of moisture while they get settled into the ground.
The Tri Color Willow tree can be used in many different landscape designs such as a being a central focal point in a perennial bed where the extra height will offset the summer colors below. Alternatively try planting several trees in small groups above a ground cover. Add a bird feeder or bird bath to the area and you will have plenty of places for the birds to perch and shelter.
The shrub form of the Tri Color Willow is often used as a hedge along a driveway or other area where privacy is needed. The tree form has a similar vigorous growth habit so if a row of the tree form is planted just a few feet apart, the long stems can be encouraged to grow together so that a ‘floating’ hedge is formed. Two rows of trees can be grown so that a tunnel or arbor is formed which is fun for children to run through and a shady place for reading.
Pruning, if needed, is best done in late fall or early spring – thin the stems can be by taking out older stems and reducing height if needed. Trimming excess growth throughout the growing season will keep a more formal look tidy.