Dappled Willow: an update three years later!

My 2013 blog post about Dappled Willow is one of the top gardening posts I’ve ever written here on Pet Scribbles, so I think it’s time for an update, to see how our Dappled Willow is doing three years later! Hint: we love this plant!

Dappled Willow: an update three years later!

I can’t tell you how happy it makes me when I write something that helps people, and my Dappled Willow post has been doing just that, ever since I first posted it three years ago.

Dappled Willow: Your Yard's Wet Spot Dream!

In fact, I had a neighbor actually stop me at Home Depot one day, as he was shopping for Dappled Willow. He had “Googled” the shrub — like we all do — and the first link in the search results was to my blog post! We had a good laugh about that, as he had no idea he’d end up reading advice from a neighbor! And I hadn’t realized at the time just how popular this post had become.

One of the reasons the post has been so popular, is because I show you how to easily grow multiple “shrubs” with stems cut from your original shrub. Much more fun that simply buying lots of Dappled Willow shrubs at once, plus you save money!

Dappled Willow one year young

Dappled Willow one year young, back in 2010.

I want you to go back and read the original Dappled Willow post — as I have pictures from when we first planted the original shrub, plus tons of helpful tips and planting info.

(I’m smiling as I type this to you, because my husband and I absolutely love our “wall” of Dappled Willow! Wait until you see it!)

Go and read the article, and I’ll wait here and gaze at Otto, sleeping here on my desk next to my laptop!

Otto, a 5-year old white Ragdoll we rescued!

So. To sum up my original post from three years ago…

  • we made a rookie mistake,
  • we accidentally grew more shrubs,
  • we’ve been adding to our collection of Dappled Willow ever since!

Dappled Willow: an update three years later!

We have a living wall of Dappled Willow and it’s SO much nicer than staring at a blank fence!

Dappled Willow: an update three years later!

The original shrub is on the left end of the Dappled Willow wall. On the right end are the newest shrubs we planted two years ago from more twigs stuck into pots.

We cut more twigs last Summer and stuck them into pots again as we want to complete the line of Dappled Willow to the end of the white fencing on that side. (Those pots are to the right of the Dappled Willow, and include other plant seedlings we’re growing including an evergreen that sprouted in our backyard years ago.)

We left the potted twigs outside over the Winter months. No special care, no protection from the elements like snow or freezing temps. (We’re in zone 7, near the shore in southern New Jersey.)

Dappled Willow: an update three years later!

Most of them sprouted, and a few of them didn’t. It depends what Mother Nature decides to do.

Some of the sprouts occurred at the bottom of the red twigs . . .

Dappled Willow: an update three years later!

While other new growth occurred further up the stems, and in some cases long stems sprouted up rather quickly this Spring . . .

Dappled Willow: an update three years later!

Remember: we don’t bother with any special rooting solution or anything else. Just cut, stick in a pot of dirt, then wait and see what happens.

We’re going to plant these new twigs this month!

And this time? We will definitely space these seedlings– which will turn into gorgeous shrubs — much farther apart this time!

Because . . .

Everything I wrote in my original Dappled Willow post three years ago still stands, but I want to emphasize just one point in particular to you:

Dappled Willow shrubs grow quickly and enjoy lots of room!

Here’s what our Dappled Willow — next to our Magnolia Janes — looked like back in 2013:

Dappled Willow: an update three years later!

And here they are today, three years later:

Dappled Willow: an update three years later!

Just looking at the lack of space between the branches of the Magnolia Janes and Dappled Willow shows you the importance of not planting these shrubs too close to each other.

I have to trim the Dappled Willow back a few times during the Summer and Fall to make sure it doesn’t take over our pretty Magnolia Janes.

This shrub responds super well to pruning, so you can keep the Dappled Willow to whatever height and width you would like. Just remember that the more you want it to fit into a confined space, the more you’ll have to prune it.

When to prune? Either very early Spring before (or just as) the buds start to show — or — after their gorgeous salmon-pink leaves are done blooming. The color the rest of the season is a pretty, variegated (i.e. dappled) green and white.

Dappled Willow: an update three years later!

The image above shows you the height of ours. The white vinyl fence is 6 feet tall, and the Dappled Willow is approximately 10 feet high!

We trim it up perhaps two to three times a season, as we like to keep the front of the shrubs fairly even with the stone edging. (And you can see that we’ll be pruning once the bloom time is done later this month.)

We also go over to our neighbor’s yard — which conveniently happens to be my sister-in-law and husband’s home — and trim back any branches hanging over into their yard as well. They love the look of it rising above the fence too!

Dappled Willow: an update three years later!

In conclusion?

We love this perennial shrub for its easy care, its reliability, and of course its multi-season interest. I think you will too.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this update!

Happy gardening!




  1. Maureen says

    Thank you! Your posts about your gorgeous dappled willows give me the confidence to prune a dappled willow in the yard of our new home. It is gigantic and wild looking, but obviously uncared for as it is spindly and turning brown in spots. It needs to be cut back by at least two-thirds to fit well into its space. I’m glad you suggested cutting older branches to the ground as I wouldn’t have thought to do that. Once healthy, I will also follow your advice for taking the winter cuttings for new shrubs to plant into our back yard next Spring. I hope mine turn out as lovely as yours!

  2. Tammy says

    I have standing water in my yard when it rains will the dapple willow suck that up? Or just help slow it down.

  3. Barbara Cleveland says

    The dappled willow is my favorite tree. I had no idea it came as a shrub and was so easy to propagate. Thank you for post.

  4. Sue says

    I just got my first dappled willow and am trying to decide where to plant it. Will it grow in the shade?

  5. Jackie says

    My neighbor has dappled willow trees on both front sides of his home. Hate them! Every time he prunes them I end up with willow remains in my yard, hostas and hydrangeas. He has to prune them at least 5 times a year. A word to your readers….be a nice neighbor and pick up after yourself when you garden and prune. He also has at least 15 peonies between our homes. Again…he didn’t put tomatoes cages around them, they fall over into our yard, blooms laying on the ground, killing the grass and wind blowing dead blooms all over my landscaping. I’m infuriated at gardeners that have no respect for their neighbors landscaping. So be a good neighbor if you plan to garden.

  6. monica says

    This is a repeat of the same message because i forgot to click the reply options below, so sending again….

    Thanks for this info! It’s great to see a follow-up any time someone plants something. I just bought three large and three small dappled willow shrubs (about 2 feet and 1 foot tall respectively). Would you say yours caught up in size in a season or two? From just a twig? I was also wondering how wide the raised bed is, that you have them in along that fence. I have about a 4-5 foot space behind a large bed. I need something that gets tall, and am wondering if I could get away with keeping them narrow enough for the space. Also curious if the pink leaves fades away to green later in the season, and what the actual flowers look like?

    thanks again!

  7. pj nEWT says

    How far apart are you planting the new dappled willows? I am about to put some in but want to make sure they are not too close. Thanks, PJ

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