A native deciduous tree found throughout the UK and Europe. Mature trees can reach 30m in height, forming a light canopy with elegant, drooping branches. The white bark sheds layers like tissue paper and becomes black and rugged at the base. As the trees mature, the bark develops dark, diamond shaped fissures. Silver birch provides food and habitat for more than 300 insect species. Extensively planted in gardens, parks, and urban landscapes.
Culture for Silver Birch
A hardy tree tolerant of full sun or partial shade. Survives in exposed and sheltered sites. Grows in all soil types (clay, sand, chalk, loam), ideally well drained but will tolerate waterlogging. Prefers slightly acidic soils (pH 5.0 6.5).
Concerns about Silver Birch
Many fungi and bacterial cankers attack birch especially those weakened by transplanting and environmental stress. Root rots (Phytophthora, Armillaria) can be problematic in poorly drained, heavy soils. Rusts and leaf spots attack the foliage. Sawflies, aphids, and mites may be a problem.
Management Practices for Silver Birch
The key to successful pest and disease management are sprays of insecticides, fungicides as soon as the pest or disease are observed. Three sprays need to be applied at 2 to 3 week intervals. Air spading to alleviate soil compaction and control honey fungus/Phytophthora combined with soil applications of biochar, appropriate fertilisers, phosphites, and mulch is highly recommended. Prune out any cankers and apply an appropriate fungicide.