Whitespire Birch

cateyanne(zone 5/6 Northern Ohio)October 22, 2007

I have had a White spire birch tree in my yard a year now. It seems to be a very slow grower. The stakes that were placed on it by the nursery, which they said I could remove around summer because the trunks would probably expand the first year, are still in place because they have not expanded enough to remove them. I was told I could then replace them for the following winter to help support the narrow trunks during our winter storms. Since I did not find it necessary to remove them because of growth, they are still in place. Does this sound right or is my tree not thriving? It seems very thin as well, I'm not sure if I am unfairly comparing it to the other birch trees (not white spires)in my neighborhood, which have thick heavy canopies. I purchased it because I liked the tiny flickering effect of the leaves and the dappled sunlight from it's tall narrow canopy, but I am wondering how full it should be? I have not pruned it because I'm not sure where to prune. The unusual lower drooping branches make it look as if it needs the lower branches trimmed but that is it's natural growing habit, so when and where do I prune? There is always plenty of info about birches in general but the info on white spires in particular is not as generous. Anyone have experience or good advice? I have checked the leaves and the bark and besides a few problems this summer with Japanese beetles, it looks fine.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i planted 3 foot whips, bare root in 2001 ... they are easily going on 20 feet ... they are growing like weeds ....

how big was yours at planting ...
what is your soil ... are you in that infamous OH clay?
was it planted at the proper depth ....
has it been properly watered ??? deeply?
is it properly mulched?

if it was a larger tree at transplant.. it would not be uncommon for it to take longer to get established .... sacrificing all apparent top growth ... [not really, seemingly so] .. to regrow a root mass sufficient to live ... this would be one of the reasons to fore go instant gratification.. and actually buy a smaller tree to start with ...

more leaves.. means more vigor/food production .. means faster root growth.. means faster re-establishment ... DO NOT PRUNE until absolutely necessary ...

any chance at a picture?


    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 8:51AM
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The following are opinions:

1) "Whitespire" is a poor name for this scraggly plant.

2) A good paper birch is a much more aesthetically pleasing plant and much more spire-like.

And here are some facts:

1) "Whitespire" was developed by noted plantsman Ed Hasselkus at the University of Wisconsin.

2) It is actually a gray birch cultivar.

BTW, I know Ed and he really is a great horticulturist. This is not one of his better moments (Back to opinion).


    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 12:01AM
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I planted a whitespire birch 6 years ago quite near my lake. The first summer it just sat there, but looked healthy. It is now 20 feet tall, an absolutely magnificent clumb of white trunks. It's so beautiful I want to propagate more trees from the clump. And yes, it is very restistent to the birch borer. We lost a weeping birch last year to the pest, broke our hearts.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 3:17PM
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We planted a whitespire birch this spring in the front yard where we have some heavy clay soil with 6 or so inches of top soil (which got mixed in when we backfilled the hole). We were careful not to plant it low, but even with the ground, and mulched the top and fertilized according to the nurseries instructions. Everything seemed well until this month half of its leaves are gone, and it looks like its dying. What's weird is that there didn't seem like much of an inbetween stage, it has green leaves a few yellow ones and now sticks where there used to be leaves. I've been watering it every day or every other day factoring rainfall (rained about once a week), so I don't know if its still not getting enough, or too much? How will I know if its getting too much? Are we better off moving the tree to the backyard where the soil is mostly black and the maple we planted there this spring is doing amazing (even though I've only watered twice this month). Thanks in advance!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 9:26AM
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