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Birch/Betula Bonsai Species Guides

Birch/Betula could be a genus of about sixty species of deciduous trees and shrubs. It can be found in various habitats, together with woodland, moors, mountains, and heathland throughout the Northern hemisphere. Birches are one among the toughest and most tolerant genera of deciduous trees.

Leaves are alternate, toothed, usually ovate and mid- to dark inexperienced.

birch bonsai

Birch Leaves

Leaves appear shortly after flowering in April or May. Their Autumn coloring varies from bright yellow to orange. Birches are monoecious (i.e. with separate male and feminine flowers on the identical tree) and depend on the wind for pollination.

Birches are favored for their bark though only 2 species native to the UK develop white bark, the Silver Birch (Betula pendula, called weeping birch) and so the Downy Birch (Betula pubescens). There are many other species from around the globe that are favored for bonsai; it would not be doable to name them all here. It should be noted that there are a great number of varieties of Betula as they very hybridize, indeed most seed from cultivated plants will not be true to the parent tree and are hybrids.

Birches bonsai tend to have shiny brown trunks when immature and during a pot, it will take many years of growth before they kind the familiar silvery-white bark. It is recommended that to speed up this method, Birches are first grown in the bottom where they color up quicker. The bark should be exposed to direct summer sun to hurry up this process, as specimens growing in shade take longer to change color.

The most common species used for bonsai cultivation are Betula pubescens (Downy Birch), Betula pendula (Silver Birch) and a dwarf Birch referred to as Betula nana. There are several alternative species and hybrids that also are suitable for bonsai but are too many to list.

Betula nana, the Arctic Birch does not develop the white bark of alternative Birches yet carries minute leaves to only 2cm long, third the size of most other Birches. It additionally reaches a height of around 60cm when mature compared to the 20metres of different Birches like Betula pubescens. Birch has a name for unexplained dieback and loss of branches; this will spoil an elegant tree. Try to style the tree with many branches so the loss of one can not affect the style. Dieback can be reduced by only pruning between leafing out in Spring and August. Pruning during the late Summer until Spring encourages sucker growth from the bottom and dieback of branches. Be very wary of collected specimens that are trunk chopped. as any areas of the trunk that do not support branches or growth generally, can dieback. It's common to work out dieback the length of a heavy Birch trunk when trunk-chopping.

Bonsai Cultivation

POSITION: Full sun. It's necessary that Birch bonsai receive plenty of light and that the tree is rotated regularly thus that all areas of the tree equal amounts of sunshine. Provide some frost protection from temperatures below -seven to -8°C to avoid twig die-back.

FEEDING: To help restrain coarse Spring growth, don't feed till 3 or four weeks after growth commences in Spring unless vigorous growth is needed to thicken trunks and branches on trees that are still in training. Feed till late summer.

REPOTTING: Every two years in Spring as buds extend, use a free-draining soil combine. Don't root prune Birch bonsai too early; it's better to root prune a little late after the new buds have opened than it is to root prune whereas still dormant.

PRUNING: Prune back new shoots to two-three leaves when flushes of growth through the growing season. Hard pruning will be dole out from budburst in Spring until late Summer but ensure wounds are well sealed as Birch bleed and are prone to die-back around giant cut areas, dieback of the trunk can unfold the length of the trunk. The resulting deadwood is unsuitable for a deciduous tree and very susceptible to rot. Try to avoid doing any pruning while the tree isn't in active growth to scale back the likelihood of dieback. Strong and healthy Birch will be defoliated in Summer.

PROPAGATION: Sow seed outside in Autumn (unless of known wild origin, seed can manufacture hybrid plants). Root softwood cuttings in Summer. Collect wild Birch in Spring before or when the first leaves are visible for best results. Find specimens that don't need serious trunk chopping as this very dieback.

PESTS AND DISEASES: Birch bonsai leaf-rust can be hassle-some, aphids and mildew.

STYLING: Informal upright forms with single or many trunks in tiny to further-massive sizes.