Silver Birch Betula pendula

British Grown

Volume 1+
Price per plant £42.00
Price £42.00
Volume 1+
Price per plant £96.00
Price £96.00
Volume 1+
Price per plant £230.00
Price £230.00

All prices include VAT

Product description

BETULA PENDULA  - Silver Birch

Characteristics

This large graceful native tree is featured in Coleridge’s poem thus
“I pass forth into light – I find myself
Beneath a weeping birch (most beautiful
Of forest trees, the Lady of the Woods)”.
It is fast growing and can reach 20m (65ft) or more on maturity.  The branches are notable by the fact that the ends are pendulous. The bark is white often with black diamond shaped markings.  If you are looking for the smooth gleaming white bark, a better option is Betula utilis jaquemontii.  The leaves of Betula pendula are relatively small, 3-6cm, and turn yellow in autumn.


Where to Grow

It grows well on all types of soil even surviving in poor dry soils.  It can withstand air pollution and thrives in cities.  As a “pioneer” species it quickly colonises recently felled or cleared ground.  Birch would have been one of the first trees to naturalise here after the last ice age.


Did you know?

There seems to be no end to the uses that birch can be put to.  John Burroughs in his essay written in 1886 “A taste of Maine Birch” lists the following although he may have been referring to the paper bark birch – Betula papyrifera.
“The whole equipment of the camp lies folded in it, and comes forth at the beck of the woodman's axe; tent, waterproof roof, boat, camp utensils, buckets, cups, plates, spoons, napkins, table cloths, paper for letters or your journal, torches, candles, kindling-wood, and fuel. The canoe-birch yields you its vestments with the utmost liberality. Ask for its coat, and it gives you its waistcoat also. Its bark seems wrapped about it layer upon layer, and comes off with great ease. We saw many rude structures and cabins shingled and sided with it, and haystacks capped with it. Near a maple-sugar camp there was a large pile of birch-bark sap-buckets,--each bucket made of a piece of bark about a yard square, folded up as the tinman folds up a sheet of tin to make a square vessel, the corners bent around against the sides and held by a wooden pin. When, one day, we were overtaken by a shower in traveling through the woods, our guide quickly stripped large sheets of the bark from a near tree, and we had each a perfect umbrella as by magic.”
 

Mature height
Large - 15-20 metres
Spread
15-20 meters
Shape/habit
Open
Spreading
Growth rate
Very Fast
Soil type
All soil types
Sun levels
Full sun
Difficulty/hard to grow
Easy
Evergreen/Deciduous
Deciduous
Season of interest
Autumn
Winter
Spring
Summer
Autumn colour
Yellow
Leaf
Green
Foliage
Fine/Light leaf
Early to Leaf
Small leaves
Stem/bark
White
Peeling bark?
Yes
Native/Naturalised
Native
Other
Good for Windy sites
Good at altitude
Uses
Screening
Parkland Tree
Garden Tree
City/Urban Sites
Encourages wildlife
Good Firewood
Timber producing

Aftercare

Pruning Betula pendula

Betula pendula has no special pruning needs. Young trees can be left feathered or stems cleared to create a standard. It is also possible to create multi-stemmed birches by are also possible . or multi-stemmed tree, and it will then need little to no maintenance. Hard pruning is not advisable as it spoils the naturally graceful shape of the tree.

To display the bark synonymous with many Birches, remove low stems from the trunk when they are young. This will keep branch scars small.

When should I prune? Light prune during the autumn, through to mid-winter. 

For the continued healthy growth of your trees, shrubs or hedging it is vital that you follow the advice below.

Watering

The main reason that plants die within 12 months of having been planted is lack of water.  It is essential throughout the spring and summer, to give a heavy enough watering to enable the water to penetrate right down to the deepest root level of the tree.  In hot dry spells give the equivalent of 2 bucketfuls every three days.

Weed Control

One of the most common causes of lack of water is competition from grass.  When trees are first establishing, the grass roots would be at the same level as the tree roots and are far more efficient at taking up water and thus choke the tree.  It is vital for 3 years after planting that your tree or hedge has a circle or strip one  metre wide completely free of grass.  The way to eliminate grass in order of effectiveness is:

  1. Spray off the grass with a glyphosate based weed killer such as Roundup.  Apply each year for the first 3 years.  It is best applied when the tree is dormant as it is absorbed through green leaves and kills the plant off at the roots.
  2. Firmly fit a mulch mat around the base of the tree by tucking the edges into the soil and put a thick layer of bark mulch on top of this.  This can be done after the initial spraying with glyphosate and should avoid the need for further spraying.

Mowing or strimming is NOT an answer to the problem.  Each time you mow, the grass will grow back more vigorously and strimming invariably leads to lacerated trunks.

Staking

If trees are not correctly secured they will rock in the planting pit. Roots not firmly in contact with the soil are unable to take up moisture and nutrients, resulting in die back or death of the tree.  Check, particularly after windy weather, that stakes are still solidly in the ground keeping the base of the trunk firm.  The purpose of the stakes is to anchor the roots.   Flexing in the wind, higher up the trunk, is not necessarily a problem if the roots are firm.

Bellow is list of the correct system to use to secure your trees.

  • 40/60, 60/80, 80/100 whips - Unless rabbit/deer problem no need to stake.
  • 100/125, 125/150  1.2m Cane and Easi tie.
  • 150/175  1.2m square stake and a buckle tie and spacer.
  • 175/250, 6/8, 8/10 15L 1.65 Tree stake and a buckle tie and spacer.
  • All larger trees. 2 x 1.65 Tree stake and cross rail with 38mm cushion spacer and 1m of 38mm strapping.

Ties

Always use our recommended tree ties or strapping.  These are designed and manufactured with the correct amount of give to hold the tree firm without strangling it. They should be checked at the end of each growing season for adjustment as the trunk thickens.  Non proprietary materials such as baler twine will cut into the bark and should not be used.

Protection from Animal Damage

Rabbits, deer, sheep, cattle and horses can all potentially damage trees.  Ask us for advice on the most appropriate guards for your trees or hedge.  Squirrels are also a terrible pest when trees get to about 20ft tall but there is no protection available.

Comments

By Barbara Geisick on 07/09/2014

Do Betula.  Birtch trees have an average life span?  If so, what is it?

By Simon on 22/09/2014

Hello Barbara the average lifespan of a Birch is between 60 and 90 years.  though some can live up to 150 years.

Kind regards,

Simon

By Carolyn on 08/11/2015

What is a good time to plant a birch?

By Simon on 09/11/2015

Hello Carolyn,

Late autumn or winter is an excellent time to plant. Bare root trees can only be planted during dormancy, approximately November-March. Container-grown trees can be planted at any time of year, but it’s best when the ground is moist.

By Henry on 25/02/2016

Hello,

Please can you tell me what the approximate girth a thirty year old Silver Birch tree would have and would pruning effect its girth?
I understand they usually have quite a slender girth, but how slender is that ?
Kind regards,
Minty.

By Simon on 25/02/2016

Dear Minty

There are numerous factors involved in the growth of trees (eg light and soil conditions), so it is impossible to say with any certainty what girth a 30 year old birch will have. In good conditions it could be anywhere from 60cm upwards. They are fast growing when young, but this is mostly in height rather than girth, hence being ‘slender’.

By Tim on 18/05/2016

I have a betula in my garden,it is approx. 15years old,I guess the hieght is about 15 meters,is it likely to grow much more,the soil is mainly clay.Would it be advisable to get the top taken off.The garden is not huge about 20m x 15m.

By Simon on 25/05/2016

Hello Tim,

Betula pendula can grow to about 20m so you could be looking at another 5m to go. I wouldn’t advise pruning as it does spoil the shape, but if it’s getting too large do speak to a tree surgeon.

By Judith Johnson on 16/02/2017

I have been given a young betula jacquemontii snow queen, about 250 cm tall which branches from about 1 metre above ground.  Do I need to prune the lower branches to ensure a longer and more impressive white trunk or should I leave them.

By Simon on 22/02/2017

Hello Judith,

If you take off unwanted branches while the tree is young, the branch scars will be smaller, but make sure to leave plenty of foliage remaining on the tree so as not to weaken it. Winter is the best time to take off the unwanted branches.

By Kris Mountford on 21/07/2017

Our garden is in a high position in Stanton Wick and the silver birch that we planted had to be cut down as it was growing on an angle because of the wind, in spite of staking and tying. Is there a silver barked tree that we can replace it with that will withstand the strong winds?
Thank you
Kris

By Simon on 21/07/2017

Hello Kris,

That’s a shame about your birch. Although they cope well with exposed locations, permanently blowing winds can cause them to grow at an angle. This could happen with other trees that usually have strong upright growth. You could look at one of the lower growing varieties, Betula pendula Youngii, for example, but there aren’t many other silver-barked trees. Whitebeam or weeping pear would offer silver leaves and cope well with wind, but don’t offer the same winter interest. Dogwoods have colourful stems, but would be shrubby; thorn trees (Crataegus) are very tough and hardy. Look at our Tree & Hedge Finder under Tricky Sites (coastal / exposed) for more suggestions. A note on staking - plant the tree so that the prevailing wind pushes it away from the stake, and leave canes on for as long as possible to encourage straight growth. Planting windbreaks (e.g. poplar or tall hedges) can be helpful, if space allows.

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