Betula utilis Jacquemontii (Himalayan Birch) is a very striking and attractive elegant tree all year round, recognised by its spectacular white bark and lovely small leaves turning a clear yellow in autumn with yellowish catkins that appear in early spring
This Betula species can grow well in pots if you provide them with good care.
Birch trees, in the wild, grow best in cool, moist soils and have shallow root systems. Keep this in mind when growing and caring for your container birch tree and it will thrive.
Birch trees do best when planted in native soil. However, if your soil is highly alkaline, clay or has some other problem, use commercial potting soil.
The best time to plant this tree is in the winter. As long as the ground isn’t frozen, January is the optimal time to plant this tree. The tree will most likely be dormant, so your birch will start to grow again by the time the warmer weather arrives. Plant them in a pot, ideally in an open, sunny position.
Choose the appropriate size container. It should be three times the width and twice the depth of the pot in which the birch tree is currently planted. Move the container to its permanent location prior to planting.
Whichever style of pot that you select for your Himalayan Birch, it is essential to choose one that is large enough for your specimen.
The minimum size that we recommend is 80 x 80 x 70cm, but the larger the planter that you can obtain the longer lived and healthier your tree will be.
Good planter options include Corten, (see photo above), Larch and Polystone or Fibrestone planters. Large Terracotta pots are also ideal pots for Betula, as they are porous, allowing air and moisture to penetrate.
Terracotta pots protect roots from rapid changes in temperature. Their added weight benefits taller specimens with a reduced risk of blowing over.
Fill the container, halfway, with reduced Peat of Peat Free Multipurpose Tree compost. Remove the birch tree from its pot and gently loosen any roots that are circling around the root ball. Be careful not to disturb the root ball too much.
If your tree is already pot bound, loosen the roots, and also penetrate the top of the rootball with small dibber holes, so that when you water the tree, water is able to penetrate into the plant. This will avoid it just flowing over the rootball and into the fresh compost, leaving the inner root system dry and the fresh compost waterlogged.
The Betula will establish itself more successfully, and grow with more vigour if you apply beneficial Mycorrhizal fungi, such as Empathy Rootgrow to the root system. This is easily available on-line or from most nurseries and local garden centres.
After applying the Rootgrow, place the root ball into the container. When planted the top of the roots, should be right below the surface of the soil.
You may need to add or remove soil at this point to make sure the birch tree will be planted at the proper depth. Finish filling the container with soil and tamp lightly around the base of the tree with your hands.
Avoid planting too deeply, which can cause damage to the root collar. So ensure that the root collar is only just below the surface when you repot.
It is advisable to add some slow release granular fertiliser to your compost mix. This will provide a controlled release of nutrients for 4 to 6 months.
Water the tree until the water runs from the bottom of the container. When drainage is complete, water it again and keep the soil moist, but not soggy.
If you have used a large pot relative to the size of the pot that your tree is already growing in, ensure that you do not overwater the additional fresh compost, as it will become waterlogged and could lead to stagnant conditions, resulting in reduced aeration and eventual root rot.
Birch trees like a bit of moisture around their roots, so be sure to water well whenever the soil or compost starts to dry out, especially during prolonged dry periods. This is important in the first few years. As pots can dry out very quickly, particularly in mid-summer, you will need to continue watering your tree regularly, even when they have become established.
Make sure to refresh-feed the tree every six months with a general controlled-release fertiliser, such as Osmacote, Miracle-Gro or Weslands slow release granules.
You can gently remove the peeling white bark. This will help keep the bark clear white by removing any green algae that grow on it, which can also be washed off with warm water.
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