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Advice on grey birch

Posted by lpinkmountain 5b/6a border PA (My Page) on
Tue, Jun 27, 06 at 13:03

Last fall I planted a grey birch, Betula populifolia or something like that, anyway the native one that's not papyrifera or nigra or allegheniensis or lenta. Got it at a native plants nursery. Had aphids this spring bigtime. Sprayed with oil soap. Leaves turned brown and died. The tree is trying to re-leaf, it looks awful. I thought the PA native tree would not be as buggy as the asian or european varieties. Is this tree going to continue to be marginal? I've only seen them in the wild in the PA mountain regions. Should I cut my losses? Anyone who has experience with growing Grey birch in an urban area, advice greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Saw a "Crimson frost" vairety in the nursery that looked better but I suspect it will be susceptible to the same aphids. Is Betula lenta, black birch perhaps less buggy due to the resin? Should I just give up on birches in this urban area I live in? Other options are serviceberry or a small magnolia or maybe some type of dogwood. I'd really prefer a birch though. Not enough space for Betula nigra, River birch.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Advice on grey birch

Argh, that sounds frustrating.

My experience with grey birch is that they literally grow like (beautiful) weeds in a natural setting. The clump near our back pasture produces so many seedlings my husband has to mow to keep them down. It doesn't seem to have any pests. A white birch I planted died within a year, however.

I haven't had much luck planting natives, personally. Maybe they're persnickity about soil ph or something. I usually content myself with growing a named cultivar (is that the word?) of a native species. Selective breeding seems to produce sturdier plants.

Re: the serviceberry, I lost an expensive tree-form on recently. It had taken me ages to find a pair, and then one of them died. And the remaining one doesn't look too good.

The magnolia, however, is doing great.

RE: Advice on grey birch

Just found a devil beetle on the birch. Yeah Carol, that has been my experience too, saw them growing like weeds in the wild so I thought they might be hardy in my yard. I know that birches are notorious for being short lived due to bronze birch borer, but I had read that this native was more resistant. Heck, my tree isn't even big enough around to get borers yet, and it's already had aphids and is now on to JBs.

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