The Q&A Archives: Himalayan Birch

Question: Three years ago I purchased and planted a Whitebarked Himalayan Birch. (Monrovia)
It seemed to be doing fine, but all of a sudden it is turning yellow; some leaves are totally yellow and falling off. I know typically it is too much water or not enough water when this happens. It is in an irrigation zone, but it has been extremely hot here the last month. (90's) Could this be heat stress, too much water or something else? No chemicals have been around it. Thanks Ed Chambers

Answer: Yellow foliage is normal in the fall, but not in mid-summer. It indicates your birch is under stress - perhaps from the weather, or perhaps from poorly draining soil (which would mimic the stress of over-watering). If you have changed nothing in the routine care of your tree, I would chalk the problem up to weather stress. Your tree may develop new foliage or it may completely defoliate and look terrible the rest of the season. If the leaves dropped because of weather induced stress, it will leaf out normally next spring. If the leaves yellowed and dropped because of root problems, you probably won't see any growth at all next spring. There's really not much you can do except wait and watch. Hope the news next spring in good!

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