Birch trees are a favorite of many. The rippled patterns on the bark are enough to enthrall an observer. But there’s more to a birch’s beauty than its bark alone. They are medium-sized trees that have stretching and graceful limbs. Their leaves change numerous colors and have a pleasing aesthetic. One of the most common birch trees in Oregon is called the paper birch.
Birch trees look fantastic anywhere on a residential or business property. Birch trees can be found all around Oregon. But for a birch to look its best, there are certain ways to care for this deciduous gem.
Birch Tree Care
Birch trees have relatively shallow roots so that’s something to take into consideration when you’re planting them. Due to their natural need for moisture and cool soil, birch trees in Oregon do best in sunny, mild climates and environments. Even moderate-heat environments may not be sustainable for birch trees to grow or thrive. These appealing ornamentals require more care to ensure healthy longevity.
When planting or working around trees and plants with shallow roots, the sun can burn the roots, so it’s best to support the tree with a healthy amount of mulch around its base. Mulching retains water and helps keep the birch hydrated and protected from heat damage. It is key to pay attention to the amount of water your birch tree gets, as too much water also isn’t good, and overwatered mulch has the potential to develop conditions in which mold, fungi, and diseases can develop. It could also attract pests.
How to Properly Prune Birch Trees
Birch trees are a great tree for growing next to central leaders—trees that have a single trunk and tiered branches—and should be pruned to keep their ideal structure and health. It’s important to prune off the lower branches that hang in pathways or along driveways. Keeping up with pruning maintenance is vital for birch trees for a couple of reasons.
First, trimming branches back so they’re not broken by passersby is just as important as pruning live branches from the crown. Sometimes it’s not just sick branches that must be cut away but live ones too so more sunlight can pass through to the lower parts of the tree, enabling it to grow.
When cutting any sick, injured, or dead bits, pay attention to the angle at which you cut into the limb, keeping the cut clean so as to support the tree. Removing any extremities with fungi will keep the tree healthy and prevent the spread of disease to any other parts of the tree or further onward to healthy neighboring trees.
Potential Harm to Birch Trees in Oregon
Much like most tree species, the birch is also susceptible to a host of pests and numerous diseases. The bark of birch trees can be penetrated, and borers like to build homes inside the bark. Part of a good tree care regimen includes a preventive pest plan. Trees become most vulnerable to pests and diseases when they aren’t continuously cared for. Keep the trees in their best shape with regular pruning and watch for other issues that might evolve into bigger issues, such as overwatering and sun damage.
The primary pest threats to your birch trees are:
The larvae seek out nutrients by burrowing into the leaves of the tree. You can identify these bugs by the fact that they leave little green spots on the leaves of the tree in the late spring. These markings will then turn brown. Generally, birch leafminers won’t kill a tree, but their presence can both weaken and deform the tree.
Bronze birch borer
This pest, however, can be fatal to your birch trees. The beetle bores into the bark of the tree and disrupts the sap flow. A healthy birch has a better chance, as these beetles are usually interested in trees that already have wounds or are unwell. You can determine that they have invaded the tree by the way the bark looks (there will be little winding galleries underneath), and the leaves will be thinning atop the tree. Regular pruning can help prevent infestations of the bronze birch borer.
Birch aphid (European or common varieties)
Aphids also are involved with the sap of birch trees. They suck the sap out of the leaves, which deforms and discolors the leaves. If the sap from the leaves is exposed, then the sweet sap may attract ants. If the infestation is really bad, it is possible that the tree will experience a leaf drop and potentially branch dieback. A leaf drop is when all of the branches lose their leaves at about the same time due to illness, and then the weakened or ill branches are exposed, leaving the branches open to further infestation.
Birch trees are some of the most recognizable species to grace magazines, films, and commercial centers. Many would even venture to say that they’re a favorite among trees. Due to their appealing and recognizable nature, it becomes even more clear when they’re unhealthy. Keeping your birch trees healthy through regular pruning, observation, and watering can help make a difference in keeping them strong and resistant to pests and diseases.
For any of your birch tree questions, including diagnosis, pruning, or how best to plant them on your property, reach out to Mr. Tree Services in Portland. We are a local company that is focused on helping make Portland’s trees and shrubs healthier, keeping the city green and usable. We offer tree removal and tree care services should your birch trees in Oregon need to be removed or trimmed or pruned. Mr. Tree is your one-stop shop for everything tree, whether for your home, business, or commercial space. Our expertly trained and certified team of arborists is happy to help you winter-proof your yard or remove any lingering stumps in preparation for more rain and snow on the ground. Call us today to see how we can help you.