Birch Bonsai

Peter44

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I want to grow some birch Bonsai. Is the Japanese Birch the one to get. I don't want a weeping one I don't think. Do any of you know a good source to get the ones that would work well? Thanks for help, Peter
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Which birch are native to within 100 miles of you? The local species, especially if it is found at your elevation would be best. Next best is river birch. Betula nigra, it's bark is more a copper color, but it is heat and cold tolerant, and resistant to birch borers.

The birch species sold by your local landscape nursery would be good local choices also.

Aspen might also give you the nice white trunks.
 

Peter44

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There are no Birch native to this part of the country to my knowledge. All the nursery's will sell big ones around here. Maybe get a bigger one and chop it?? I saw the Japanese maple on line (big ones) and liked the structure of them. We do have native Aspen here. I dug about 20 of them 6' tall and planted them in my front and back yards. Then we moved to Iowa for 7 years and came back. Good heavens...they were 35-45' tall and the little shoots were everywhere. Then we had a logging exercise and the neighbor kid learned how to stack the wood. If you drill a 1" hole or three in the stump and pour the holes full of straight broad leaf spray it kills the stump and all the roots. There were some yellow trails in the lawn for the summer, but no more Aspen. Yes, I was hoping to get the white bark that the birches have.
 

Peter44

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If I buy a bigger Birch with, lets say a 1"+ trunk at the base, will I be able to chop it to 18" when dormant and have bud back on the short trunk during the summer? How touchy are they about root prune at the same time or root prune in general? Help appreciated. Thanks, Peter
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Take note of what species of birch the local nurseries are selling. Some birches are very disease prone in certain climates, the ones the nurseries sell, will tell you which species of birch do well in your climate. The North American paper birch, native mainly to the northeastern tier of USA states and most of Canada is prone to get attacked by bronze birch borer insects when planted in regions that are warmer than its native range. I think the European weeping birch, which doesn't weep much, is resistant to the borer, but I am not sure, so check what your local nurseries are selling. This will give you the name to look for. Then on line you can find smaller size stock, if you don't want to risk chopping a 6 foot nursery tree.

I understand about aspen. I believe there are very few in bonsai pots because they are difficult to work with. The roots will abandon a trunk you are trying to get to ramify branches in favor of little suckers.

I have no personal experience with chopping back a birch. So I really can't say. My gut feeling is they will back bud, when cut in winter or when cut after first flush of growth has hardened off, right around the summer solstice. (before the middle of July)
 

Mihai

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Hey @Peter44. I'm by no means an expert in birch but I'll chime in with my experiment. I collected a birch 2.5 years back. Wonderful base, 7 inch root flare, nice white bark. The tree was about 6ft tall. I cut it back to 2ft and positioned a new branch as leader, leaving a bit of the trunk above the cut as birch internet wisdom suggests. The first months following collection it did great. New growth, lots of buds, green as can be... started to ramify after a light cutback. During it's first winter in the pot, the top half of the new leader decided to bite it. Spring came, the tree put out tens of suckers from the base, dieback continued. This lasted another nine months of random dieback, branch after branch, untill the whole main trunk was dead but the roots kept pushing suckers.
Would I try birch again? Definitely because the ones in our region have amazing bark.
Would I get attached to the tree? Most definitely not...
Good luck in any case!
 

Peter44

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Coppice, what type of Alder would you suggest? I see English Alder has the lighter bark but have no idea where to purchase them. Peter
 

AJL

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Hi the European Birch , Betula pendula, is susceptible to Bronze Birch Borer in USA and Canada.
Luckily we dont have the bug yet over here in Britain....
DSCN1394.JPGDSCN1394.JPG
 

Peter44

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Thanks Oso. I ordered some red alder and some vine maples just now from them. Peter
 

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