The Q&A Archives: river birch trees

Question: Last fall I purchased 3 4-5' River Birch trees from Home Depot-planted, watered and fertilized them. This spring they look DEAD! The branches are dead, but there is a very little new growth coming from the ground-what gives? I have never seen a tree start new from the bottom in the spring!
I live in Michigan and love the River Birch and thought it would be the perfect tree for my yard. It is good for zones 3-9 and is planted in well drained soil and gets plenty of water.
Help! I don't want to give up on them!

Answer: Sharon,
Those trees died back for some reason. It could be root injury or drought during or after planting. I suppose if the soil stayed soggy wet for an extended time the roots could have died from lack of oxygen. It could possibly be cold injury if they were growing lushly when a very hard freeze hit. Whatever the cause, they are now regrowing from the living basal parts of the tree. I would give it another few weeks for the tops to start sprouting. If they don't then cut the trunks back to the ground level and let the sprouts grow into the new trunks. You may need to remove some sprouts to direct growth into the "chosen" ones. They should regrow very rapidly and you should have sizeable trunks by the end of the year.

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