Award-Winning Dwarf River Birch

By Charlie Nardozzi

Each year the Cary Award is given to trees and shrubs with outstanding characteristics that are not widely grown in home landscapes. Although the award is for plants adapted to New England, many of the winners can be grown across the country. This year one of the Cary Award-winning plants is a familiar tree with a new twist.

River birch (Betula nigra) is a widely grown tree that features attractive exfoliating bark in colors of brown, salmon, peach, and orange. This native tree grows from Florida to Minnesota and is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9. River birch is heat tolerant, resists the bronze birch borer, and grows well on moist, well-drained soils. It's a fast-growing tree that reaches 40 to 70 feet tall, so it's not a good choice for a small yard.

Enter the Cary Award-winning 'Little King' river birch (Betula nigra 'Little King'). The 'Little King' river birch has all the great characteristics of the original river birch, but it only grows 10 to 12 feet tall and wide. It's so compact it can even be grown as a deciduous hedge and planted near the house, where its colorful bark can be enjoyed year-round.

For more information on this award-winning selection of river birch, go to: Carey Awards.

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