The silver birch tree (Betula pendula), also known as the European white birch or weeping birch, prefers to grow in sunny, well-drained soil with a pH between 3.5 and 7.0. Healthy specimens grow to heights between 12 and 24 m (40 and 80 feet) with a canopy spread of 3 to 7.5 m (10 to 25 feet). Silver birch is a quick grower with an expansive root system. If you plan to plant a silver birch, keep in mind that the lifespan is shorter than many trees -- averaging about 60 to 80 years.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Soil pH testing kit
- Lime or peat moss
- Garden shovel
- Garden hose
- Soaker hose
Work the soil in your chosen planting area, breaking it up with a pitchfork to a depth of at least 30 cm (12 inches). Test the soil using a soil pH testing kit from a garden centre.
Amend the soil if necessary. Mix lime in with the soil if the pH is below 3.5 or peat moss for soil with a pH above 7.0. Add the required amendment according to the packaging label's instructions.
Dig a hole for the silver birch tree that measures twice the width of its nursery container, using a garden shovel. The depth of the hole should match that of the container.
Lay the silver birch on its side and slide the root ball out of the container. Turn the tree upright and set it in the centre of the hole. Make sure that the area where roots meet trunk (graft union) is above the soil line. If not, add more soil to the bottom of the hole.
Backfill the hole halfway. Fill the hole with water from a garden hose to secure the roots. Continue backfilling the hole around the trunk of the silver birch, and tamp the soil down with your foot afterward to remove air pockets.
Water the silver birch generously after planting using a soaker hose. Supply the silver birch with at least 2.5 cm (1 inch) of water per week for the first two growing seasons. Once established, the silver birch requires supplemental watering only during times of drought.
Tips and warnings
- If you live in a windy area, you may want to add some support for your silver birch. Hammer in a 1.2 m (4 foot) metal stake 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 inches) behind the tree, and attach the tree to the stake with pantyhose or strips of cotton cloth.
- Do not overwater the silver birch tree after planting. Too much water can cause root rot. Press your fingers into the soil before each watering. If the soil feels damp at a depth of 2.5 cm (1 inch), do not add more water. Instead, check the soil again in a few days.
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