Are you fortunate enough to have a fine example of a Silver Birch or Betula growing in or near your own Garden? Then you will know that a mature tree is often covered in seed carrying catkins during the month of August.
These slim catkins are often associated with Silver Birch trees, release masses of paper thin seeds which are dispersed in the wind or carried away by birds or washed into the bare earth by Summer showers.
Often the first tree to establish itself in a woodland setting the Silver birch helps prepare the way for slow growing/maturing trees that will far out live the birch as they establish dominance in the woodland setting. Long maturing trees like the handsome and regal Oak, Sweet chestnut and Lime take a long time to establish into attractive tree specimens. In contrast the birch spends the first 10 years putting on rapid growth and make an open delicate habit, that creates a feeling of maturity in new gardens! This is one of the main reasons that the birch remains such a welcome ornamental tree in our parks and gardens.
A Winter garden would not be complete with out some coloured winter stems and the humble birch and it’s species can rival some of the snake bark maples for paper bark effect and colour. The RHS has a wonderful list of birch trees and their cultivars that will help you decide which coloured stem birch tree to plant in your garden.
Betula species can be grown from seed sown fresh in the Autumn or kept refrigerated over winter for sowing in early Spring
How to Grow Silver Birch Trees from Seed
Once you have purchased or collected your birch seeds, Sow them thinly on the surface of the well rotted compost or humus, leave uncovered or cover with a light sprinkling of vermiculte.
Set your propagator at 10-15°C (50-59°F) as germination is encouraged at optimum temperatures.
Pot up your new seedlings when two leaves have developed and continue to pot on to encourage growth, reguar potting up will encourage healthy root development to support stem and leaf growth.
Commerically grown seed raised or grafted trees grown out in the open fields can grow 1.2m (4ft) tall by the end of Summer.
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