S & J Nursery’s Guide to Growing
River Birch Trees
in the Northeast Florida Landscape
( Betula Nigra )
River Birch Origins:
– native to the eastern United States
River Birch Preferred Exposure:
– full sun to light shade
River Birch Foliage | Bark:
– deciduous foliage of the River Birch is a bright glossy green color on the surface of the leaf with a silvery color on the underside, tree has almost a lacey appearance and is especially attractive with a slight breeze ruffling the undersides of the leaves into view.
– leaves of the River Birch turn a nice yellow in the fall when weather
conditions permit before falling off for the winter
– River Birches are never talked about without mention of their unique peeling bark. Young bark is a beautiful pinkish ivory color and peels off in cinnamon brown to blackish curling sheets each year.
River Birch Soil Preference:
– moist, slightly acid, fertile soils
– unlike that typical of the species the River Birch is highly tolerant of
poorly drained soils making it a good choice for an area where rainwater is slow to drain off or dry after heavy or elongated periods of rain in North Florida. River Birches also tend to prefer the slightly acid soil common
to the North Florida | Jacksonville | St. Augustine landscape
River Birch Size Variance:
– can reach sizes of 50+ feet H | 40+ feet W depending on how many trunks are allowed to develop
River Birch Growth Habit:
– upright narrow taller than it is wide
River Birch Growth Rate:
– extremely fast growth rate particularly in its early years
River Birch Bloom:
River Birch Water Requirements:
– not drought tolerant River Birch trees will drop leaves in hot dry weather
if no supplemental irrigation is provided
Butterfly or Bird Attracting:
Best Uses For River Birches:
– River Birch is an excellent choice for a shade tree in smaller scale landscapes that do not allow for wide spreading trees such as Elms or Oaks to have room to spread their branches without disturbing their surroundings. Also a good choice for consistently moist soils.
Care of River Birches:
– water every day during the establishment period. See watering your newly planted trees for more information.
-they will need good water during the establishment period and supplemental irrigation during dry spells or particularly hot dry summers.
– prune dead or weakened branches each summer as needed for maximum curb appeal
– provide a 1 ft diameter circle of mulched area where grass is kept from growing for each inch of caliper (or diameter) of trunk measured 4 inches from the ground level.
– fertilize each spring with a mixture of Milorganite and a slow release poly coated plant food such as Osmocote or Stay Green general purpose plant food, sprinkling the fertilizer around the mulch circle underneath the foliage of the tree