BIRCH (BETULA KOTULAE)

MACH5

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Originally purchased from Eric Schrader last year. This birch was started as a cutting about 20 years ago by Eric. Hard to believe given the highly plated and rugged looking bark that has already developed. It was originally sold to me as a Himalayan birch but upon further research and positive ID from a plant diagnostics lab in Utah it was identified as a Betula kotulae, which as I understand it, it is a subspecies of silver birch.

It grew incredibly well in my garden, producing roughly seven strong growth flushes within one growing season. However, in true birch fashion, as fall was nearing it dropped about 10% of its secondary branches. I would say not bad at all for birch. Other more significant branches were cut off to improve its design.

Last spring it was repotted into an old, unsigned Japanese container.

Below is the tree as I received it in November of 2020. I thought it was already a great looking tree!

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The tree a few days ago.

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The tree today.

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butlern

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Whoa!!! Brilliant, Sergio. Eric’s efforts and care have clearly been amazing with this tree… and now super excited for its further development in years to come in your garden!
 

mattspiniken

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What an incredible tree, its hard to find a collectable Birch with good white bark in my area. I guess the best way to go is to make cuttings, 20 years is quite the effort though!

Also I love the movement you are putting into the branches. Not many wire all the branches on deciduous and you have convinced me that this will be my preferred technique.
 

just.wing.it

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Birch are one of my favorite trees to see in the woods. This one is looking great already, can't wait to see it immaterial a few years in your care, M5.
Very cool.
 

MACH5

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What an incredible tree, its hard to find a collectable Birch with good white bark in my area. I guess the best way to go is to make cuttings, 20 years is quite the effort though!

Also I love the movement you are putting into the branches. Not many wire all the branches on deciduous and you have convinced me that this will be my preferred technique.


Thanks Matt. I do think you get the best (and most natural results) by using a combination of wire and the clip and grow method. Once that initial wiring design work sets and matures, you can then gradually transition to mostly just clip and grow. Of course there will be times when you may need to reset certain trees or redirect a few branches that will require wiring. But overall the idea is to start heavy with wire and then pull back on it and let the natural growth habit of the tree take over.
 

Shogun610

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Very cool tree, how heavy were you watering it this growing season, and the substrate ? This birch species is known as a pioneer plant so I’m interested to see how you’ve dialed in on a regiment for watering.
 

MACH5

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Very cool tree, how heavy were you watering it this growing season, and the substrate ? This birch species is known as a pioneer plant so I’m interested to see how you’ve dialed in on a regiment for watering.

Heavy on the water with full sun until summer. But the tree I am sure will tolerate more shady locations. I am using akadama with about 20% kiryu. It grew like a beast and I simply could not make it stop!

I am studying this tree carefully because I know of their difficulty. But it looks like no matter what you'll get some dieback. Part of their genetics. My landscape tree does the same.
 

Carol 83

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We had a few birch trees in the yard when I was growing up, always loved the bark. This tree is beautiful.
 

Hartinez

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phenomenal acquisition Sergio. The bark is so great and your line work in the branches is exactly as you talk about it, like a drawing or painting.

I feel like Eric has cultivated a number of odd species and cultivars. for bonsai at least. He’s become one of my favorites for his trees diversity. He’s got some pretty great Montezuma cypress trees grown from seed.
 

MACH5

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phenomenal acquisition Sergio. The bark is so great and your line work in the branches is exactly as you talk about it, like a drawing or painting.

I feel like Eric has cultivated a number of odd species and cultivars. for bonsai at least. He’s become one of my favorites for his trees diversity. He’s got some pretty great Montezuma cypress trees grown from seed.


Indeed Danny! Eric is a strong talent not to be dismissed!
 

Potawatomi13

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Love to see such knowlegable folks grow good trees of species some hate/despise as supposedly worthless for Bonsai😌.
 
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Interested to see how experienced enthusiasts handle less desirable species that are reliably available to me.

I love Birch
 

TomB

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But it looks like no matter what you'll get some dieback. Part of their genetics. My landscape tree does the same.
I am sure you know this, but for anyone else reading: one way to reduce the likelihood of dieback is to only prune when the tree is in active growth, and not back into bare wood - always leave a couple of buds/leaves for the tree to regrow from, or it will drop the branch.

Beautiful tree, congratulations.
 

MACH5

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I am sure you know this, but for anyone else reading: one way to reduce the likelihood of dieback is to only prune when the tree is in active growth, and not back into bare wood - always leave a couple of buds/leaves for the tree to regrow from, or it will drop the branch.

Beautiful tree, congratulations.


Tom, thank you for pointing that out! Yes, it is best to cut back to viable buds otherwise you will most likely kill the branch. I have more or less followed Dennis Vojtilla's advice in letting the tree extend and then cut back to two buds.

I have posted this tree on Facebook. My friend Mike Humphrey commented that in late summer I should place this tree in a tray of water until beginning of fall. According to him, keeping the soil completely and constantly saturated will greatly minimize any twig dieback. Not sure if this was first hand experience or heard it from someone else? I will need to ask. I'm even less sure if I want to try that with this tree! Similar approach to what some folks do with bald cypress 🧐
 

MACH5

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Interested to see how experienced enthusiasts handle less desirable species that are reliably available to me.

I love Birch


They are certainly a beautiful but elusive species. Not sure if you have already, but would suggest to listen to Mirai's podcast with Dennis Vojtilla. He talks about his method of dealing with birch. He has one of the very best birch bonsai I have seen anywhere.
 

Canada Bonsai

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Fantastic tree, and pairing! The drips on the pot are a perfect match for this tree, I love it!

Were you specifically seeking a pot with drips, or was it more of an a-ha moment when you saw it? Curious how your mind works :)
 

MACH5

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Fantastic tree, and pairing! The drips on the pot are a perfect match for this tree, I love it!

Were you specifically seeking a pot with drips, or was it more of an a-ha moment when you saw it? Curious how your mind works :)


Thanks Derek! The pot is a wanna-be Koyo! It has so much character without been overbearing. I knew the tree would require a better pot of course but was not looking for anything specific except for it being ideally a rectangular one. In my search (for several weeks) I came across this one on Adam's site and thought it would work. Definitely an aha moment as most things work out with me. I agree that the drips add a lot to the composition.
 

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