Birch Bonsai: How To Take Care Of Your Tree

[fusion_builder_container type=”flex” hundred_percent=”no” hundred_percent_height=”no” hundred_percent_height_scroll=”no” align_content=”stretch” flex_align_items=”flex-start” flex_justify_content=”flex-start” hundred_percent_height_center_content=”yes” equal_height_columns=”no” container_tag=”div” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” status=”published” border_style=”solid” box_shadow=”no” box_shadow_blur=”0″ box_shadow_spread=”0″ gradient_start_position=”0″ gradient_end_position=”100″ gradient_type=”linear” radial_direction=”center center” linear_angle=”180″ background_position=”center center” background_repeat=”no-repeat” fade=”no” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_blend_mode=”none” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_loop=”yes” video_mute=”yes” absolute=”off” absolute_devices=”small,medium,large” sticky=”off” sticky_devices=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” sticky_transition_offset=”0″ scroll_offset=”0″ animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ filter_hue=”0″ filter_saturation=”100″ filter_brightness=”100″ filter_contrast=”100″ filter_invert=”0″ filter_sepia=”0″ filter_opacity=”100″ filter_blur=”0″ filter_hue_hover=”0″ filter_saturation_hover=”100″ filter_brightness_hover=”100″ filter_contrast_hover=”100″ filter_invert_hover=”0″ filter_sepia_hover=”0″ filter_opacity_hover=”100″ filter_blur_hover=”0″][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_2″ type=”1_2″ layout=”1_2″ align_self=”auto” content_layout=”column” align_content=”flex-start” valign_content=”flex-start” content_wrap=”wrap” center_content=”no” target=”_self” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” sticky_display=”normal,sticky” order_medium=”0″ order_small=”0″ hover_type=”none” border_style=”solid” box_shadow=”no” box_shadow_blur=”0″ box_shadow_spread=”0″ background_type=”single” gradient_start_position=”0″ gradient_end_position=”100″ gradient_type=”linear” radial_direction=”center center” linear_angle=”180″ background_position=”left top” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_blend_mode=”none” filter_type=”regular” filter_hue=”0″ filter_saturation=”100″ filter_brightness=”100″ filter_contrast=”100″ filter_invert=”0″ filter_sepia=”0″ filter_opacity=”100″ filter_blur=”0″ filter_hue_hover=”0″ filter_saturation_hover=”100″ filter_brightness_hover=”100″ filter_contrast_hover=”100″ filter_invert_hover=”0″ filter_sepia_hover=”0″ filter_opacity_hover=”100″ filter_blur_hover=”0″ animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ last=”false” border_position=”all” first=”true” min_height=”” link=””][fusion_title title_type=”text” rotation_effect=”bounceIn” display_time=”1200″ highlight_effect=”circle” loop_animation=”off” highlight_width=”9″ highlight_top_margin=”0″ title_link=”off” link_target=”_self” content_align=”left” size=”3″ text_shadow=”no” text_shadow_blur=”0″ gradient_font=”no” gradient_start_position=”0″ gradient_end_position=”100″ gradient_type=”linear” radial_direction=”center center” linear_angle=”180″ style_type=”default” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” sticky_display=”normal,sticky”]Overview Of Birch Bonsai[/fusion_title][fusion_text rule_style=”default” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” sticky_display=”normal,sticky”]

Birch trees, botanically known as Betula sp., are often turned into bonsai. They grow quite quickly and have an eye-catching appearance which makes them very attractive as little potted trees. There are quite a few birch cultivars that are used as bonsai specimens with bark colors ranging from black, gray, white to silver. Of these cultivars, silver birch (Betula pendula) is the most commonly used with its extraordinary white or silver bark with horizontal markings.

Silver birch trees are native to Europe and parts of Asia. They are deciduous (lose their leaves to become dormant in winter) and amongst the most frost-hardy species used as bonsai. In the wild, these trees are tall and skinny reaching a height of around 80 feet (25m) with a trunk diameter that rarely exceeds one foot (30 cm). They like a climate with cold winters and thus don’t do so well in gardens with mild temperatures all year round.

Silver birch is well known for its characteristic white bark that peels off in paper-like flakes. In spring and summer, the white bark contrasts spectacularly with the light to medium green leaves of the canopy creating quite a stunning effect. In early fall, these leaves will turn yellow and fall quite early compared to other deciduous trees.

Birch, no matter the cultivar, can be quite a challenging bonsai to care for. It is a common occurrence to see branches dying back for no apparent reason. When this happens, you will often need to remove the dead branch before it affects the trunk of your tree. You’ll also have to rethink and change your design to make up for the missing branch.

[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_2″ type=”1_2″ layout=”1_2″ align_self=”auto” content_layout=”column” align_content=”flex-start” valign_content=”flex-start” content_wrap=”wrap” center_content=”no” target=”_self” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” sticky_display=”normal,sticky” order_medium=”0″ order_small=”0″ padding_bottom=”0px” hover_type=”none” border_style=”solid” box_shadow=”no” box_shadow_blur=”0″ box_shadow_spread=”0″ background_type=”single” gradient_start_position=”0″ gradient_end_position=”100″ gradient_type=”linear” radial_direction=”center center” linear_angle=”180″ background_color=”#e5e5e5″ background_position=”left top” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_blend_mode=”none” filter_type=”regular” filter_hue=”0″ filter_saturation=”100″ filter_brightness=”100″ filter_contrast=”100″ filter_invert=”0″ filter_sepia=”0″ filter_opacity=”100″ filter_blur=”0″ filter_hue_hover=”0″ 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image_id=”2758|full”]https://bonsai4beginners.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/694773_m.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container][fusion_builder_container type=”flex” hundred_percent=”no” hundred_percent_height=”no” hundred_percent_height_scroll=”no” align_content=”stretch” flex_align_items=”flex-start” flex_justify_content=”flex-start” hundred_percent_height_center_content=”yes” equal_height_columns=”no” container_tag=”div” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” status=”published” border_style=”solid” box_shadow=”no” box_shadow_blur=”0″ box_shadow_spread=”0″ gradient_start_position=”0″ gradient_end_position=”100″ gradient_type=”linear” radial_direction=”center center” linear_angle=”180″ background_position=”center center” background_repeat=”no-repeat” fade=”no” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_blend_mode=”none” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_loop=”yes” video_mute=”yes” absolute=”off” absolute_devices=”small,medium,large” sticky=”off” sticky_devices=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” sticky_transition_offset=”0″ scroll_offset=”0″ animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ filter_hue=”0″ filter_saturation=”100″ filter_brightness=”100″ filter_contrast=”100″ filter_invert=”0″ filter_sepia=”0″ filter_opacity=”100″ filter_blur=”0″ filter_hue_hover=”0″ filter_saturation_hover=”100″ filter_brightness_hover=”100″ filter_contrast_hover=”100″ filter_invert_hover=”0″ filter_sepia_hover=”0″ filter_opacity_hover=”100″ filter_blur_hover=”0″][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ type=”1_1″ layout=”1_1″ align_self=”auto” content_layout=”column” align_content=”flex-start” valign_content=”flex-start” content_wrap=”wrap” center_content=”no” target=”_self” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” sticky_display=”normal,sticky” order_medium=”0″ order_small=”0″ hover_type=”none” 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title_link=”off” link_target=”_self” content_align=”center” size=”3″ text_shadow=”no” text_shadow_blur=”0″ gradient_font=”no” gradient_start_position=”0″ gradient_end_position=”100″ gradient_type=”linear” radial_direction=”center center” linear_angle=”180″ style_type=”default” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” sticky_display=”normal,sticky”]Care Guidelines For Birch Bonsai[/fusion_title][fusion_text rule_style=”default” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” sticky_display=”normal,sticky”]

If you’re unsure of which birch cultivar you have, don’t fret too much. All birch bonsai have similar care guidelines and characteristics. Let’s take a look.

Ideal Placement

Birch tree bonsai should be placed in an outdoor area with full sun. These trees need to feel the warmth of summer and the cold bite of winter to stay healthy. If you live in a very hot climate, however, you can shield your tree from the midday sun to prevent leave burn.

Despite being quite a cold-hardy bonsai, you will still need to protect your bonsai when it gets colder than 19.4°Fahrenheight (-7°C) and quite windy. If your tree is left out in windy conditions with temperatures below this threshold, you will experience more twig die-back than usual.

Keep in mind that birch trees need the cold of winter to stay healthy. This means that if you do decide to bring your tree indoors, the area it’s placed in should be fairly cold to keep your tree dormant. An outdoor shed usually works great for this purpose as well as an undercover area on your patio that is protected from cold drafts.

Water Requirements

Birch trees are quite thirsty during the growing season. You will need to water your tree daily or even more than once a day if you live in a very hot climate. In the hottest part of the day during mid-summer, many bonsai keepers place their birch bonsai in a shallow tray filled with water.

By doing this, you don’t have to worry about underwatering your bonsai. Just make sure to not leave your bonsai in that tray for more than two to three hours. The roots still need time to breathe if you want to avoid root rot.

In winter, you can water your birch tree bonsai much less. Just make sure the soil stays slightly moist at all times to prevent roots from withering away in dry soil. If you’re worried about over- or underwatering your plant, simply stick your finger about one inch (2.5cm) into the soil to test for moisture. If the soil feels dry, you can water your plant. If it still feels moist, wait another day.

Soil And Fertilizing

Birch, just like other bonsai, need regular feeding to stay healthy. The limited soil in the pot gets leached of all nutrients quickly, especially in bonsai such as birch that needs frequent watering. To keep your tree healthy, you will need to fertilize regularly.

For the best results, use a solid fertilizer once a month during the growing season with the last fertilizing at the start of winter. Don’t fertilize during the winter months since your tree needs to be resting and doesn’t need the nutrients. You can start fertilizing again at the start of spring in preparation for the growing season or around 4 weeks after growth started depending on your goal.

If you want to be more involved with your tree, you can also use a liquid fertilizer once a week during the growing season. Once winter comes around, you can reduce fertilizing to once a month. Always make sure to apply liquid fertilizer on moist soil to prevent damaging the roots of your tree.

If you want to restrain course spring growth, only fertilize your tree around 3 or 4 weeks after the growing season started. If you fertilize earlier, your tree will grow quite vigorously which is often not a desired result in bonsai. If you want to thicken the trunk, however, early fertilizing is recommended to trigger vigorous growth.

Pruning Times

Birch trees take very well to pruning as long as you avoid making big cuts. Large wounds tend to rot instead of healing which can lead to a hollowing out of the trunk.

Pruning needs to be done regularly throughout the growing season to keep your little tree in shape. New shoots will need to be trimmed down to the first pair of leaves throughout the growing season if you don’t want your tree to get out of hand.

It is possible to do hard pruning from the moment the buds open in spring until mid-summer. Make sure to seal any wounds properly after to avoid rot and excess “bleeding”. Birch trees tend to leak a lot of sap from large wounds which can trigger the dieback of branches.

If the dieback reaches your tree trunk, it can spread the length of the tree making it vulnerable to rot. To avoid the risk of dieback, avoid pruning outside of the growing season.

Repotting Times

Repotting of birch trees needs to be done every two to four years depending on the age of your bonsai. The best time to do repotting and root pruning are in spring, just after the new buds opened. Root pruning should never be done on a dormant tree, so rather go for late rather than early repotting.

You can do some vigorous root pruning to keep them in shape. Around ¼ of your little tree’s roots can be removed during a repotting exercise.

Birch trees aren’t very picky when it comes to soil type. It is, however, still important to choose a well-draining soil to prevent problems such as root rot.

Propagation Management

The most common method to propagate birch bonsai is by using seed. Birch grows quite quickly from seed and is easy to turn into a little bonsai. It does, however, take longer for the tree to develop its mature bark color compared to when grown in the garden. For this reason, many start their birch bonsai in a garden bed outdoors to speed along the process.

Another way to propagate birch is by taking semi-hardwood cuttings. Cuttings can be a bit tricky to grow and the method also differs between cultivars. If you want to try this method of propagation, make sure to read up on your specific birch species or cultivar.

Potential Pests And Diseases

Birch bonsai are very prone to attacks by insects and diseases, especially in wounded areas. Some common problems to look out for are aphids and sawfly larvae. Birch trees also often develop a fungal disease called birch rust.

To treat these pests, you will need a pesticide. Do make sure to never apply the pesticide to your birch bonsai while the soil is dry. Also, make sure to adjust the strength accordingly since your birch bonsai is much smaller than normal trees.

If you have a fungal problem like birch leave rust, you can treat the problem by using a specific fungicide. If you’re unsure what to get, ask an expert from your local nursery. Just as with pesticides, make sure to water your birch thoroughly before you apply the solution to the affected parts of your bonsai.

Wiring Your Bonsai

Birch tree bonsai needs to be wired often if you desire to style your tree with hanging branches. The branches of these bonsai naturally grow upwards but do be careful when doing the wiring. Weak shoots and branches tend to die back when being wired.

Shaping of branches is often done by using guy-wire or hanging weights to prevent dieback. If you’re new to bonsai, growing your birch tree in an informal upright style with single or multiple trunks is often the easiest.

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