How to Start Birch Trees From Seeds

Overview

The distinctive peeling bark of the birch tree (Betula spp.) makes it a popular choice for gardeners looking for an attractive shade tree for the residential landscape. Although birch seeds are not difficult to germinate, the seedlings grow slowly--it may take them five to 10 years to grow 5 feet, according to scientists with the United States Department of Agriculture. Birch seeds need a period of preparation prior to being planted in the landscape. This preparation is known as cold-moist stratification and should be performed in January for a March planting.

Step 1

Moisten enough peat moss to envelope the birch seeds. Push the seeds into the moss and place the bundle in the plastic bag. Seal the bag and place it in the refrigerator for two months.

Step 2

Choose a planting location for the birch tree seeds. Birch trees need full sun, but also require cool, moist soil. The north or east side of the house is the best location, according to specialists with the United States Forest Service. They also suggest that you walk around your landscape in late afternoon to locate a site that is in the shade. Check for overhead utility wires, as the trees can reach up to 50 feet in height.

Step 3

Obtain a soil pH test from your county cooperative extension office. Let the agent know which species of birch seeds you will be planting. Ask for suggestions on how to raise or lower your soil's pH.

Step 4

Till the soil in the planting area to a depth of 12 inches. Add any soil amendments suggested by the results of the soil pH analysis. Rake the planting bed until it is smooth.

Step 5

Plant the birch seeds in March by scattering them over the seed bed and barely covering them (less than 1/4 inch) with peat moss.

Step 6

Moisten the seedbed and keep it moist until the birch seeds germinate. This should occur within four to six weeks.

Things You'll Need

  • Peat moss
  • Sealable plastic bag
  • Soil pH test
  • Rototiller or garden fork

References

  • University of Minnesota Extension, Institute for Culture and Ecology: Birch
  • United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: How to Grow and Maintain a Healthy Birch Tree
  • Purdue University: Betula Lenta L.
Keywords: birch tree seeds, grow birch seed, germinate birch seed

About this Author

Victoria Hunter, a former broadcaster and real estate agent, has provided audio and written services to both small businesses and large corporations, worldwide. Hunter is a freelance writer specializing in the real estate industry. She devotes her spare time to her other passions: gardening and cooking. Hunter holds a Bachelor of Arts in English/creative writing.