Are you thinking about planting a birch tree to spruce up your garden? Or are you watching the one you already weakened by the day? Not everyone is born with green fingers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help your birch survive and thrive!
All you need is a little help with these five things to know about birch tree care.
1. Planting a Birch Tree
Birch trees have a shallow root system which makes the trees sensitive to heat and drought. If your birch tree is struggling, it could be because it is getting too much sun. If you have a paper birch tree, you can transplant it quite easily without causing the tree too much shock. You should not go about removing a birch tree or transplanting one, without the help of an expert.
2. The Correct Soil
The trees need to be planted in a spot where the soil remains moist and cool but the sun still reaches the leaves. Identify a spot where the roots will be shaded during the hottest part of the day.
Most birch trees, other than the White Birch, grow well in soil that is slightly acidic. If you have a White Birch, it will grow well in alkaline soil.
Provide your birch tree with iron supplements to prevent chlorosis and frequent nutrients. Choose a low-nitrogen, slow-release fertilizer with iron to keep your tree healthy.
3. Watering Your Birch Tree
As most birch trees are sensitive to drought, it’s important to keep the soil moist, especially in the height of summer. The first couple of years after planting, soak the soil thoroughly with a hose to keep the soil moist to the roots. Covering the roots with 2 – 4″ of mulch will help significantly to keep the roots moist.
Once the tree is established, it requires around 1″ of water per week
4. Pruning Birch Trees
An important aspect of caring for a birch tree is pruning to keep it strong and healthy. It helps to reduce the risks of structural problems and defects.
If you identify branches that are broken, dead or diseased, these should be removed. In this way, you can prevent diseases from spreading to the rest of the tree.
Sometimes it may be necessary to remove healthy branches too if it will help sunlight exposure.
Aim to prune your birch tree in late fall or winter when the tree is dormant. You don’t want to cause the tree to lose sap by pruning it in spring, or when birch borers are active in summer.
5. Common Diseases & Pests
There are a variety of insects and diseases which attack birch trees and can cause severe damage, and even kill the tree if left untreated. Here are some common issues to look out for
Bronze Birch Borer
An invasive wood-boring beetle that tunnels under the bark and causes holes. Trees that suffer from drought stress are especially vulnerable. There are store treatments you can purchase to help with this.
These insects attack the leaves, creating little green spots on the surface that will turn into brown spots. It is not a lethal infestation but can weaken the tree.
Aphids extract sap from the tree leaves which turns the leaves yellow. A big infestation can result in leaf drop and branch dieback. If you notice an excess of sap (aphid honeydew) underneath the leaf, it’s probably due to aphids.
DIY Birch Tree Care
Armed with a little knowledge you have the capabilities to provide the correct birch tree care to keep your tree thriving for years to come.
Explore our blog for some more home guides, tips, and tricks.