Horticulture Magazine

Salix Integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ Shrub Care & Growing Tips

japanese willow branches

Salix Integra Overview

Official Plant NameSalix Integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’
Common Name(s)Flamingo Willow
Plant TypeShrub / Tree / Hedging
Native AreaNorth-East Asia
Hardiness RatingH5
ToxicityNone
FoliageDeciduous
FlowersColourful foliage, yellow catkins
When To SowSeptember, October
Flowering MonthsApril
When To PruneFebruary, March
Sunlight

Preferred
Full Sun

Exposure
Exposed or Sheltered

Size

Height
1.5 – 2.5M

Spread
1.5 – 2.5M

Bloom Time
Spring

Soil

Preferred
Clay, loam, sand

Moisture
Moist but well drained

pH
Any

This intriguing deciduous shrub is a dwarf member of the Salix genus, more commonly known as willow.

If you’re captivated by the willowy aesthetic but are in the majority of Brits whose garden is far too small to accommodate one, then it’s time to get yourself acquainted with Salix Integra.

Japanese willow growing amongst flowers in a beautiful garden
This willow has nothing to weep about

Boasting small white catkins, and with its canopy held proudly aloft by strong branches, this shrub makes a fantastic visual and ambient contribution to any outdoor space. Grown alone, or incorporated into displays with other flowers and plants, you’re sure to enjoy the visual treats it offers, with the main season of visual interest taking place in late April and early May.

In this guide we’ll tell you everything you need to know to get a Salix Integra happily integrated into your garden.

What is Salix Integra?

This dwarf willow cultivar is known as Hakuro Nishiki, which translates from Japanese as ‘dappled willow’. The name references the pink and white dappled markings on the leaves, which are a real treat to behold.

The variety is northeast Asia, including Japan, China, and Korea. Visually, it aligns well with a stereotypical Oriental floral aesthetic: Gentle pinks and whites, with delicate leaves and petals.

Why grow Salix Integra?

Many gardeners choose to grow a Hakuro Nishiki because of its size and appearance. The willow family has some strongly characteristic members, including the weeping willow that we’re all familiar with. Most varieties, however, are far too big to grow in the average British garden, meaning that those wanting to incorporate a willow are left to choose from just a small set of suitably sized varieties. Salix Integra sits comfortably within this bracket.

Salix Integra’s popularity as a dwarf willow, along with how well suited it is to growing in British conditions, have earned it the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. This prestigious award indicates that a plant is a particularly good choice for gardeners in the UK, and is only awarded to plants that meet certain stringent criteria.

pink and white salix integra blooms
Blooms so gorgeous they received an award

So, if you’re looking for an attractive, easy to grow, and captivating shrub for your garden, Salix Integra is the way to go.

How to grow Salix Integra

Hakuro Nishiki is most often sold grafted onto the stem of another willow, because its own stem growth is prone to be relatively weak. Grafting combines the beauty of Salix Integra with the structural integrity of a stronger plant, giving your shrub the best chance at sturdy growth.

Once planted, the shrub is fairly easy to care for. You’ll need to prune occasionally, and to keep an eye on soil moisture levels, but there are no quirks to be aware of that make this plant hard to grow.

Where to grow your plant

When you’ve bought your grafted Salix Integra plant, you’ll want to find a spot in your garden that sits in full sun or partial shade. Full sunlight isn’t required, but you will get to enjoy the most attractive colouration if your plant gets more sunlight.

These trees grow naturally near flowing water, so they can tolerate more moisture than some others, but the soil they’re planted in must be able to drain well to prevent damage to the root system.

In terms of pH level, Salix Integra isn’t fussy. It will grow in acidic, alkaline, or neutral soil.

Planting tips

When you’ve found the right spot in your garden, remove your grafted shrub from its pot, and place into a hole about twice as wide as the root ball. The hole should be about the same depth.

To prepare the hole, add some blood, fish, and bone fertiliser before inserting the Salix Integra. Gently pack the soil in around the plant, ensuring it’s packed tightly enough to prevent much movement. The plant should be about the same depth in the ground as it was in the pot, to reduce the risk of shock.

Leave around 60cm clear in each direction from the Salix Integra to give it space to grow. You can grow plants in the soil around and beneath your shrub, but let it get established first.

Fertilising

We mentioned adding blood, fish, and bone to the soil in the hole you plant your Salix Integra in. This will ensure good nutrition for the fledgling shrub.

For ongoing care, Salix Integra likes a couple of inches of mulch each spring. Apply this around the base of the shrub, leaving a small ring clear immediately next to the trunk. Mulch will nourish your plant, but more importantly is the role it plays in conserving moisture and cooling the soil slightly.

For additional nutrition, you can work some slow release fertiliser into the ground surrounding your Salix Integra.

Watering

This plant can be sensitive to drier conditions, so keep an eye on the moisture levels. Once established, the weather should provide enough moisture to keep it healthy, but during particularly dry spells you may want to water it yourself.

Immediately after planting, water the soil around the base of your Salix Integra. This has the combined benefit of providing moisture, and in helping to pack the new soil down, keeping the plant stable.

Pruning

It’s possible to get a second yearly burst of beautiful pink bloom if you prune your Salix Integra properly, so in this section we’ll tell you how to do that. The first thing to keep in mind is that you should avoid pruning in the first spring after you plant out your shrub. Pruning this soon after planting will cause more harm than good, and you’ll see much better results if you wait until the plant is established before taking the secateurs to it.

Hakuronishiki foliage
Prune properly, and you’ll get two beautiful annual displays

The first time you prune your Salix Integra, in the spring two years after the autumn you planted it, cut back by a third. Remove sections that are touching the ground.

The next two times, cut back by half and again remove sections touching the ground.

Thereafter, you’ll be working with a plant with a fully developed root system. At this stage in its lifespan, the Salix Integra can tolerate the most pruning. Trim back your shrub to 60cm in height. While it may feel severe and even counterproductive to trim away so much, doing so will encourage the largest amount of growth the following spring.

On top of this annual spring pruning session, you can cut back each stem by 30cm each July. This mini-prune will encourage another beautiful bloom later in the year.

Troubleshooting common problems

While unlikely, Salix Integra is liable to experience various problems. Familiarise yourself with the pests and diseases in this section to ensure quick and effective action should your plant be unlucky enough to experience problems.

Aphids

These suckers will quite literally suck the sap right out of the leaves on your Salix Integra, causing tiny but constant damage. They’re small and green, but visible to the naked eye if you look carefully. Try to brush away individual aphids or small groups, but if you notice them persevering on the plant nonetheless, consider moving onto more drastic measures. Such measures include introducing ladybirds or other predatory bugs to eat the aphids, or using pesticides to kill them off.

Caterpillars

Baby butterflies are far less majestic and attractive than their more mature cousins. Instead of fluttering daintily near your Salix Integra, they’ll have no shame munching its leaves and damaging its growth. If you notice caterpillars, follow the same steps outlined above for aphids. With caterpillars you also have the added advantage of being able to remove them before they hatch, preventing any damage to the vigilant gardener’s plant.

Canker

This malady is caused by fungal spores, which invade a plant and cause spots and scabs. If you see black spots in spring or summer on an otherwise-healthy looking shrub, it may be indicative of infection. As the disease progresses, the blemishes make their way along stems and toward the main trunk. Each blemish puts forth spores in autumn which are then spread around the plant and to surrounding plants, causing further damage.

Sadly it’s not possible to treat existing cankers, but you can prune away infected sections and apply fungicides to nearby growth to reduce the risk of spread. When it comes to canker, vigilance and quick action is of paramount importance.

Rust

Another fungal disease, this time causing rust-colour patches on leaves and plant damage as a result. By picking off infected leaves as soon as you see damage, you may be able to stop the spread. If you weren’t quick enough, however, various fungicides are available to keep things in check. With rust, prevention is the best cure. Avoid elevating the nitrogen content of the soil around your Salix Integra, as this promotes the type of growth most prone to rust.

Now to integrate a Hakuro Nishiki

There you have it: Everything you need to know about buying, planting, and nurturing a Salix Integra in your garden. By now, you should have a firm grasp of the attractive merits of this plant, along with the gardening knowhow required to get one thriving in your garden.

While subtle, having a dwarf shrub in your garden that evokes similar themes to a full-size tree contributes a very distinct visual element. The shape and form of a Salix Integra can act as the basis or backdrop for all manner of visual displays. Its white pink blooms look great against a wide array of colours, and a well cared for, mature shrub will make a fine centrepiece for your garden.

We wish you the best in getting acquainted with this proud plant.

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