How to Plant White Birch Trees


The paper birch tree will brighten up your landscape with its thin white bark and bright yellow fall foliage. This is the classic white birch tree that inspired writers like Robert Frost. Paper birch or Betula papyrifera is suited to hardiness zones 2 through 6 and does not fare well in warmer climates. The white or paper birch can grow up to 60 feet tall and spread up to 35 feet wide, so take mature size into consideration when planting a paper birch.

Step 1

Locate a suitable site on the north or east side of your home which receive natural protection from afternoon sun. The ideal site for a white birch will have cool and moist soil but allow the tree to receive morning sun on its leaves, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Step 2

Test your soil with a pH kit. Birch trees prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.0 to 6.5, according to the USDA. Amend your soil by adding sulfur to make it more acidic. A soil with a pH of 8.0 will need 1/2 lb. of sulfur to get down to 5.5, for example.

Step 3

Dig a hole for your birch sapling that's twice as large as the tree's root ball. Remove any sticks or rocks from the hole. Tap your shovel at the bottom of the hole to break up the soil.

Step 4

Remove the white birch sapling from its container and break up the root ball with your fingers. Untangle any crossed roots. Place the white birch tree in the hole and spread the roots out with your fingers. The tree should be vertically straight and sitting at the same depth in the ground as it was in the container.

Step 5

Fill in the hole with soil. Water the white birch until the soil is compressed around the tree and is sodden.

Things You'll Need

  • pH kit
  • Sulfur (optional)
  • White birch sapling
  • Shovel
  • Water
  • Mulch


  • United States Department of Agriculture: How to Grow and Maintain a Healthy Birch Tree
  • North Dakota State University: Paper Birch
  • United States Forest Service: Paper Birch
  • United States Department of Agriculture: Tree Planting Guide

Who Can Help

  • Poetry Online: Birches
  • Iowa State University: How to Change Your Soil's pH
Keywords: paper birch, white birch, tree planting guide

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.