Weeping willow dieback

Asked September 16, 2020, 8:21 PM EDT

I have a weeping willow, it is a Salix Mat. Golden Curls. I think it is about 4-6 years old. It was doing fine, but this year, in early summer, I noticed leaf and twig dieback, esp on the lower branches. I kept an eye on it, thought maybe it wasnt getting enough water in summer or competing with the grass around it. So gave it more water and took out the grass to about the drip line of the willow. The top of the tree has leaves and the bottom still has some dieback on twigs and leaves. It has some new growth on the bottom third of the tree but not nearly enough. The top looks ok, so might be doing better but not as it should. I also noticed esp along stems with dieback that at the crotch of that stem/branch there was some bark missing. I took photos. There were a lot of branch crotches with that same kind of thing where the outer bark is missing in an oval shape or sometimes a square. What do you think might be causing this ? thanks Lisa Graff

Multnomah County Oregon

1 Response

Hello Lisa,

Willows are fast growing trees and tend to have branches die back sooner than you might expect compared to other trees.

The cause of die back ranges from drought stress to diseases. We are in an extended drought and willows require a lot of water.

In terms of diseases, the damage in the middle picture could be due to one of several diseases:
Do the symptoms you see match either of the above descriptions?

Regardless, prune out out the dead/dying wood. If you make clean cuts, there scars left behind will be smaller and less ragged.

In terms of treatment with a fungicide, its probably not necessary and would be challenging to get good coverage of the tree without hiring an arborist.

Good luck.