The silver birch tree (Betula pendula), also known as the European birch, grows to a height of between 35 to 75 feet. The tree makes an ideal shade tree during the summer months and creates a fall color show of brilliant yellow leaves. Numerous cultivars produce varying looks. Several varieties offer weeping habits and one has purple summertime foliage. The bark of a silver birch appears grayish-white and flaky. The tree grows well in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 2 to 7.
Plant the silver birch tree in a location with full sunlight or partial shade. It prefers well-draining soil with ample humus. Locate the tree away from sidewalks, foundations or roadways, which may interfere with the tree's spreading root system.
Apply 4 to 5 inches of mulch around the base of the tree to keep the roots cool in the summer months, help the soil stay moist and prevent weed growth. Use bark chips, leaf debris or peat moss.
Water the birch tree deeply every 2 to 3 weeks. Utilize a soaker hose for slow, deep watering. Water the tree to a depth of 39 inches.
Fertilize the birch tree in May using a general purpose granulated 30-10-10 fertilizer. Apply according to the directions on the label. Water the fertilizer into the soil thoroughly.
Prune the silver birch tree in late spring after all foliage as appeared. Only remove limbs to maintain the tree's appearance or for clearance reasons. Prune the limb just before the swelling known as the "branch collar." The branch collar is a black line with swelling located on the tree's trunk where the branch joins it.
Things You Will Need
- Mulch (such as peat moss, bark chips or leaf debris)
- Soaker hose
- General purpose granulated 30-10-10 fertilizer
- Pruning loppers
- The birch leaf miner feeds on the leaves of the silver birch. The insects cause the leaves to develop brown spotting. Control by insecticidal applications.
- Birch canker, a fungal cancer, causes swellings on the silver birch trees limbs. Control by pruning away infected limbs.
- The silver birch does not tolerate the heat of southern states well.