Weeping birch trees (Betula pendula), also known as silver birch, are grown for their interesting, ornamental bark and graceful, cascading foliage. As forest trees, the birch in nature thrives in moist, cool soil in sunny to partially sunny areas. Although the United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service recommends against planting the weeping birch, because of its problems with insects, it suggests that if you do plan to grow this tree, you plant the weeping birch on the east or north side of the home.
Water the birch tree to maintain moist but not soggy soil. The Forestry Service recommends that you water once a week to a depth of 8 to 18 inches. Cut back on the frequency of watering in August to allow the tree to go dormant. Water every other week.
Apply a 4-inch layer of mulch to the soil below the tree. Spread it in a 3-foot radius around the young weeping birch. Spread the mulch in a 6-foot radius around a mature birch. Good mulch materials include wood chips and shredded bark.
Fertilize the weeping birch only if there is a nutrient imbalance in the soil. To determine whether or not to fertilize, deliver a soil sample to a county cooperative extension agent. Ask for recommendations of suitable fertilizers, based on the test results. Apply the fertilizer at the rate and in the manner suggested by the extension agent.
Inspect the weeping birch tree for signs of insect infestations. Two common pests are the birch leafminer and bronze birch borer. Yellow or brown leaves may indicate a leafminer problem while stunted growth of the upper crown of the tree indicates the bronze birch borer. Although the birch leafminer won’t damage the tree, it can weaken it and make it more susceptible to attacks from the birch borer, which will kill the tree if not caught in the early stages. Take foliage samples or photographs to a county extension office for analysis and control recommendations.
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