Willow Scarlet or Salix alba Chermesina is one of the most spectacular of the Willows with brilliantly coloured orange-scarlet red young stems which are at their most effective throughout the winter months when the landscape can be at its dullest time.
Grown as a specimen tree it generally forms an upright pyramid shape but for best effect and to get the most benefit from the colour it is best pruned hard every other spring. Also sometimes known as Salix Britzensis or Coral Bark Willow it is of German origin from a nursery near Berlin and a hybrid of the Salix alba family, the colouring of the new shoots being even brighter in effect than the Golden Willow. On older specimens of willow Scarlet if the stem colour appears to be waning then it can be rejuvenated by pollarding to encourage new orange-scarlet growth in the spring when the colour will be more pronounced.
As with other hardy Willow plants, Salix alba Chermesina will thrive in any reasonable soil in moist areas such as near ponds, ditches and rivers or boggy areas and will be most effective in parkland or open areas to take advantage of the amazing colour against a backdrop of green grass and grey skies. Growing at a rate of 60cm per year for hedging Willow Scarlet can be spaced at 2 plants per metre and pruned on a regular basis in springtime, the narrow leaves and small catkins also appear in spring for added interest. Like most willows they can be propagated by just sticking a stem in the ground and it will root quite easily.
Willow Scarlet is sold as bare rooted plants available through the winter months when the plants are dormant. This enables ground preparation to be carried out beforehand when the weather permits therefore allowing the planting to take place soon after delivery to minimise the trauma to the plants.