Weeping Willow looking very dead after winter


I planted a weeping willow in my field in fall of 2020 -we’re surrounded by farmland so very exposed to snow and wind. Location is south-facing and the tree gets full sun.

We had a very dry summer last year and the tree hand some water sprouts but we cut those and watered by hand even more frequently, it seemed to be okay going into the fall and winter. But seems to be worse for wear coming out of the cold this month. Hope the pictures are clear enough… the top branches look almost entirely lifeless but when I scratched it at top of trunk it still has green-ish life.

If anybody has any idea on best approach from here I’d greatly appreciate it. We planted two autumn blaze maples at the same time and those are doing just fine, it’s just the willow that seems to be having a tough go. Again, ANY thoughts/help would be greatly appreciated.


Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners,

The Weeping Willow may still be dormant at this time of year. Looking at the photos, I do not see any topical diseases and I would suggest fertilizing the tree. Although normally weeping willows do not need fertilizer, if your weeping willow is not doing well you can apply a balanced fertilizer, with an NPK ratio of 20-20-20, in spring. Adding compost to the tree roots instead of fertilizer is an option to aid in the tree growth.

The tree may not have been planted deep or wide enough; check the root ball to see how the roots are growing. You may want to dig out the tree and replant it in a new location. Our website has information on planting new trees. Tree for Life

Weeping willows can have a variety of  problems of pest and disease issues, willow scab, willow blight, black canker, fungi, powdery mildew, root rot, and more. Pest issues  include aphids, gypsy moths, and borers.

Take a close look if possible at the branches to see if you can identify any dark spots or unusual growth. If you can take a close up photo of the branches for identification, we can assist in identifying the cause.

Our website has information you can review for a possible fungal disease –  Glomerella miyabeana. There are also photos which you can use to compare to your tree. See also Willow Tree Diseases   and Agriculture Canada. There is also the Asian Long Horned Beetle that is affecting Willows among other trees. See Asian Long-Horned Beetle .  You should also look for silver leaf disease caused by  a fungus Chondrostereum purpureum   Agriculture Canada Silver Leaf Disease.

This website has fact sheets that lists diseases for willows. Listed alphabetically look at the bottom of the second column for Willows. That may assist in finding the culprit for why your willow seems as if its ailing. Willow Diseases Cornell University

Hoping that your tree requires only fertilizer and does not have any of the listed diseases or pests.

Happy Gardening