Why plant Audubon® Native River Birch Treeling?
In creating your backyard bird sanctuary, start here. Trees are vital to that endeavor, and few trees have more to give to birds than River Birch. The seeds of this welcoming native shade tree feed countless songbirds, including chickadees, titmice, tanagers, cardinals, crossbills, sparrows, and Pine Siskins. Birds may nibble the buds and catkins (flowers), too. Insectivorous birds are not left out! It’s estimated that River Birch hosts an incredible 400-plus species of moth and butterfly caterpillars for their dining pleasure. River Birch is an obvious choice for your bird paradise—give it some serious consideration!
Birch Trees are the glory of our northern forests. In Minnesota and Wisconsin, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire, their peeling, paper-white trunks gleam in the sunshine, painting a dazzling picture on even the coldest winter days. Unfortunately, these showy Birches struggle where summers are hot, often falling prey to damaging insects and diseases. For warmer zones, River Birch is a smarter option. This southeastern native offers fabulous, flaky bark, along with all the benefits to wildlife you expect from a Birch Tree—AND it is resistant to pests and disease!
How to use Audubon® Native River Birch Treeling in the landscape?
Among the over 400 moths and butterflies that use River Birch as a host plant, one particularly endearing species stands out. The mourning cloak butterfly is a joy to see in early spring or even late winter. It overwinters as an adult (rare for butterflies), and it will usually be the first butterfly you’ll spot each year.
Hardiness Zone: 4-9
How To Plant Audubon® Native River Birch Treeling
River Birch gets its name from its affinity for riverbanks in the wild, and it will likewise enjoy a wet site in your landscape, although normal conditions are fine, too. Never let the soil dry out completely, especially during the critical first couple of years of establishment. River Birch is otherwise a tough tree, and tolerates heavy clay soil, de-icing salts, and pollution.
How To Water
Water twice weekly for the first 3-5 weeks; then water weekly for the remainder of the year until winter. When you water, water slowly and thoroughly. Watering needs may be altered due to extreme weather conditions.
How To Fertilize
Incorporate Elements Starter Plant Food granular form into the soil when planting. If planting in spring or summer, start fertilizing late fall using Elements Starter Plant Food granular form on an annual basis each fall. Continue this for the first three years to get your plant well established.
How To Prune
A young tree may need a little extra support to ensure that it lives a long and healthy life. Stake your new Treeling with a 6-8 foot tall wood or bamboo stake. Use expandable ties that will stretch as the tree grows, fastening the stake to the main trunk from the base to the top. Check the ties every few months, at least twice a year; ensuring the ties are not digging into the trunk. If there is any sign of this, take the tie off and reattach it, giving the tree more room to grow.
As your Birch grows, remove a few of the lower branches each year in mid to late summer. Remove these lower branches before they reach 1/2 inch in diameter. It is better to make small cuts to avoid cutting a large, more mature branch - this is too stressful for the tree. Each year, make any corrective pruning needed, paying particular attention to removing damaged branches, rubbing branches, multiple leaders at the top, or suckers at the base. Limit any pruning to no more than 25% of the branching structure in a given year. Pruning benefits the tree and helps to achieve a balanced tree form. Remember to not prune birch in early spring, the sap can bleed excessively.
After two or three years you can feel free to remove the stake from the tree.