The Q&A Archives: Helping River Birch to Recover from Root Shock

Question: My River birch had root shock last year when it was planted, and we had to remove a main branch. What is the best way to prune it this year, and is it appropriate to remove dead or weak branches? (Some branches leaf up only at the base but not all the way to the tips.) Mark Clark Grayslake, IL

Answer: You can remove dead or weak branches anytime. Birches tend to bleed sap a lot in spring, so any live branches I'd remove in summer after the new growth gets going or in winter. I'd remove those weak branches back to the main trunk, fertilize it with a complete fertilizer such as 10-10-10 and keep it well watered. Hopefully it will start to regrow.

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