Betula nigra (River Birch)

This tree is widely distributed throughout the south eastern part of the United States and as the name suggests, is often found growing on river banks and can tolerate long periods of inundation.

It’s happy in most soils but needs plenty of light to do well and look good. The leaves are dark green on one side and yellowish green on the under side. It bears long hanging catkins (the flowers) in spring.

An immensely tough and hardy tree, well adapted to most conditions and most soil.

Propagated by seed.

The best time to prune birch trees is late summer or early autumn. It’s usually only needed to remove dead, diseased and injured branches. When you prune at the correct time, you not only avoid sap flows, but you also avoid the egg laying season for most insects that infest pruning wounds. Birch tree borers are tree killers, and you should reduce the risk of attack by cutting after their early summer flying season whenever possible.

N.B. When clipping several plants with the same tool, have a bucket containing a 5% bleach solution and swish your blades around for 30 seconds between plants to sterilise them. This will help avoid the chance of cross contamination of disease.

As with all woody plants, plant high, exposing as much of the taper at the base of the trunk as possible. Allowing soil to accumulate round the base of a tree can be fatal. Keep very well watered when first planted.

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Hardiness level Green

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Hardy anywhere in Britain below approximately 1000ft (300m)

This is only meant as a guide. Please remember we're always on hand to give advice about plants and their frost hardiness.

Please remember that these coloured labels are only a rough guide.

General Point about Plant Hardiness: The commonly held belief that it's better to 'plant small' is perfectly true with herbaceous plants, but not necessarily true with woody plants. They need some 'wood' on them to survive severe cold - so plants of marginal hardiness in very cold areas should really be planted LARGER, rather than smaller, wherever possible.

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