How to Plant and Care for Birch Trees

Birch trees.

The birch tree grows easily in the right conditions, and is highly resistant to disease, making it a desirable tree for gardens and yards. Use the guidelines below to plant your birch trees to ensure them a long, healthy life.

When to Plant Birch Trees

Transplant a birch sapling in the early summer, so its roots can sink well into the soil before the first frost.

    Where to Plant Birch Trees

    A birch tree will flourish in moist soil with several hours of full sunshine a day. Its preferred spot is near other low trees or shrubs so that its roots are shaded, but its foliage can get light.

    Both the white birch tree and the paper birch are hardy, prospering in the cold winters and warm summers of northeastern and central North America. The silver birch tree prefers milder winters and humid summer climates, as does the European white birch. With good conditions, the European white birch tree will form multiple trunks from ground level, resembling tropical trees.

    How to Plant a Birch Tree

    Select a spot with a gentle slope, so the soil can drain well. On the east or north side of a house or building where they will get the most rainfall, is ideal.

    Ensure the soil is loose, as the birch tree's root system is shallow and broad. If your soil has high sand or clay content, add a high proportion of organic mulch. Fertilize with a product that targets root growth, in the late spring and early summer. Test the soil's pH factor. Birch trees do best in earth with a pH of between 5.0 and 6.5. Use suitable fertilizer to maintain this pH level.

    Dig a planting hole three times as broad as the tree's root ball. Open out the roots of the tree carefully by hand, and set it gently into the hole. The uppermost lateral main root must be below ground level. Refill the hole with soil to half its depth. Water the roots profusely, and wait till the water has been absorbed.

    Continue adding soil to the hole till full. Water once more. Cover the roots with a significant depth of mulch, at least 3 inches. Water often to keep the soil around the roots moist.

    Care for Your Birch Tree

    Keeping the birch well-watered is crucial to good health. The birch's main insect predator, the bronze birch borer, attacks the weakest trees first through cuts in the bark. Foliage and branches weaken and vanish from the top down.

    Prune sparingly. White birches naturally grow into a pyramid shape that does not need forcing. Prune only in the winter or earliest days of spring while it is dormant, to remove dead branches identified in the fall. Lop off dead or moribund branches with shears. If they are diseased, clean your shears with an antiseptic like rubbing alcohol or Lysol. Do not use pine cleaners or chlorine bleach to decontaminate pruning equipment, as these can corrode the steel.