River birch slow to leaf out

Dorota123May 21, 2014

our 4 year old river birch seems to have trouble leafing out this year. Some of the internal branches are completely missing leaves so it looks a little threadbare. Could it be from my dogs peeing on it? Is there anything I can do to encourage leaf growth?

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How old is it, how long has it been planted?

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 10:25AM
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I have a similar problem, over in VA. The lower branches of my big River Birch tree are leafy, but one trunk only had small leaves, while another looks almost dead. Pictures attached. I remember last year being concerned about yellowish leaves, and we had a difficult winter, with temperatures down to 0 C, and big fluctuations between 50s-70s and low 20s until late in spring.

Is this going to just be a slow year, or is the tree dying? Do we prune? Let it recover on its own? Deep-water? Feed? Ours is pretty big, but I'm not sure how old. Easily 10+ years, from the history of the house.

In the image, the leaves on the left hand side are the tree's lower branches on the front trunk. Contrast with the top of the tree, and the other two trunks, one of which is essentially bare. Will followup with a detail picture of the bare branches.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 1:15PM
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Here is a detail of some of the branches. While some are plain dead -- no buds, or other signs of life, about 1/3 of the dead branches so, in fact, have "flowers", but no leaves.

OP, is this similar to what you experience in DC?

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 1:17PM
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beng(z6 western MD)

River birch shouldn't be bothered by DC cold.

Look at some leaves (if you can) & see if they're malformed/stunted or otherwise look strange. Mine has had problems in the past w/some kind of wax-scale that deforms/kills leaves.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 10:30AM
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I will try to reach some of the higher leaves for a look-see. Of course, the temperatures reported were well below freezing -- 0 Fahrenheit, not 0 Celsius as I reported. So a tad cooler than the usually mild mid-atlantic weather. But you're right, some of these trees even make their way close to the Great Lakes, so an occasional deep-freeze should not affect them.

What worries me is that we've had such drops in spring, following really warm days. I've lost a fig tree down to the ground, as well as two grap vines -- all of which had started to bud this spring, before one of the cold snaps.

OP -- I feel terrible, I did not mean to hijack your thread. I just want to find out if others in the mid-Atlantic area had similar issues with their River Birches.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 1:31PM
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I've had some spotty damage on many of my trees after this winter and they were quite sound going into it, and some of them have just been leafing out this week. Waaay behind schedule. It was a grueling season and hit us harder as far as tree and shrub damage than any I can remember in the last quarter century. The cold was severe and prolonged.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 2:10PM
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