How to Grow Britzensis (Coral Bark Willow)

Last Updated on April 8, 2024 by Real Men Sow

Salix alba subsp. Vitellina Britzensis are popular for their winter bark. Its orange-scarlet stems are the ones that make gardeners want to grow it. The plant is easy to grow and manage. It is great for adding color to winter gardens and it looks especially good in groups. 

Salix alba subsp. vitellina ‘Britzensis’ in moist soil in full sun. To encourage new growth in spring, prune back vigorously. This will ensure the best winter color.

  • Sun exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Soil type: Well drained / light / sandy / clay / heavy / moist

Britzensis (Coral Bark Willow) Facts and Benefits

Grown mainly for its red stems in winter, its attractive foliage and for its ability to prosper in wet soil conditions. As a multi-stemmed shrub, it can be effectively massed or grouped in shrub borders or foundations. It also makes an effective screen. Mix with Salix alba var. vitellina for red and yellow stem contrast. 

As a tree, it may be pollarded to showcase the new-growth red stems. As an unpruned tree, it can be quite effective in informal naturalistic settings. Regardless of habit, it is a good selection for moist soils along streams, ponds or in low spots where other shrubs or small trees may falter.

How to Grow Britzensis (Coral Bark Willow)

The plant is not picky about growing conditions and thrives in average soil in full sun to part shade. If you prune them to grow as shrubs, you can group these plants in shrub borders or use them to make an effective privacy screen. If you do not prune them, they will look lovely in informal gardens or along streams and ponds.

Britzensis (Coral Bark Willow) Care Guide

You’ll need to water this willow occasionally and the sunnier the planting site, the more regularly you’ll have to irrigate.

It’s not a requirement to prune them.  However, left to grow, the shrubs will become trees in just a few years. They can grow 8 feet (2 m.) in one year and top out some 70 feet (21.5 m.) tall and 40 feet (12 m.) across. 

Perhaps the most ornamental feature of coral bark willow is the red stem effect of its new shoots. That’s why they grow the plant more as a multi-stemmed shrub. To accomplish this, simply prune back the branches each year in late winter to one inch (2.5 cm.) from the soil.

Pests and Diseases

Susceptible to numerous foliar diseases, blights and cankers and many insect pests including aphids, scale and borers.

Real Men Sow
Real Men Sow

Hello, I’m Pete and I’m currently based in the west of Scotland, in a small place called Rosneath, where I’m exploring my garden adventures. I personally started gardening around 6 years ago and initially, I started out by growing my favorite fruits and berries, such as strawberries, Raspberries & Gooseberries. Since then I’ve added a lot of vegetables and working closely with my neighbor, it’s been a lot of fun.