The Q&A Archives: Concerns about purchasing a birch tree.

Question: What are the good and bad features of the purple rain birch and the whitespire birch?

Answer: Generally speaking, birches are lovely trees and can grow to a commanding stature in the landscape. They may not live as long as we would like in the landscape however. Keep in mind that they need full sun, an evenly moist organic soil, and prefer cool summer weather. They are very cold tolerant however are somewhat prone to storm breakage. In their search for moisture they will send out many fibrous roots including along the soil surface, making it difficult to plant below them. Adverse sites and/or excessively hot and/or dry summer weather can cause them to become particularly susceptible to birch borer infestation, among other problems. In my experience, the river birch (Betula nigra) is usually healthier overall when planted in the landscape than the white barked birches. Here is some information about birches that you may find helpful. You may need to cut and paste the complete url into your browser to make it work correctly.

Your local professional nursery staff and/or county extension should also be able to help you evaluate the pro's and con's of planting a birch in the site you have in mind.

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