Birch trees, of the genus Betula, are known for their striking bark and fall foliage that creates a magnificent landscape tree. Birch trees are naturally found in cool forests and thrive in moist, cool soils. Birch trees should be placed in the landscape on the east and north sides of your home where the building provides afternoon shade, says the United States Department of Agriculture.
Asian White Birch
Asian white birch (Betula platyphylla) is a deciduous tree with a rapid growth rate and medium-textured bark. It grows 40 to 50 feet tall and 15 to 25 feet wide. Asian white birch trees have a pyramidal shape when young that becomes oval with age. The simple green serrated leaves grow 1 ½ to 3 inches long and turn yellow in fall for a showy display in the landscape. Asian white birch trees have bright white bark that is non-exfoliating. They grow best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. Plant Asian white birch trees in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zones 5 to 8.
Canoe birch (Betula papyrifera), also called paper birch, is a deciduous tree with a moderate to rapid growth rate. Canoe birch trees grow 50 to 70 feet tall and 25 to 45 feet wide. They have a pyramidal shape when young that becomes irregularly oval to round with age. Typically, canoe birch trees retain all of their low branches as they grow. The white bark on canoe birch trees appears as if it's peeling off in large strips. The leaves grow 2 to 4 inches long and turn a yellow to golden color in fall. Canoe birch trees grow best in well-drained, sandy and moist soils although they tolerate a wide range of soil varieties. Plant in USDA hardiness zones 2 to 7a.
Monarch birch (Betula maximowicziana) is a deciduous tree with a moderate growth rate and medium texture. Monarch birch trees grow 40 to 50 feet tall and have a pyramidal to rounded form with a gray to white bark that splits into sheets. When young, the branches on monarch birch trees appear red to brown. The foliage on monarch birch trees grow 3 to 6 inches long. Monarch birch trees require full sun and tolerate a wide range of soil types. Plant in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 6.