How to Grow Silver Birch Trees from Seed

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.

evitaochel / Pixabay

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.

how to grow silver birch

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, Soak them in a large plastic cup for at-least 24hrs before sowing. Use an organic potting compost and plug tray or peat pots. Pour a little of the water along with the seeds that have been soaking in the plastic cup along directly onto the pre soaked compost, pouring them thinly on the surface of the well rotted compost, leave uncovered or cover with a light sprinkling of vermiculite.
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.

Commercially 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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Stephen Pryce-Lea

Head Gardener and International Horticultural Consulatant




“It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, when you find it in a Garden it’s like finding Paradise“

iGrowHort – A Head Gardener’s Horticultural Journey of love, life and learning.


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About Head Gardener 291 Articles
Award winning, 40 something year old professional plantsman and horticulturalist with National Trust, private parks and estate management background. My vast plant knowledge and hands on techinical experience, afforded me the opportunity to work in various horticultural landscapes, in the UK, USA & Eastern Europe. Having worked in both garden retail & the design service industry gave me the practical diversity and managerial skill set, required for running a large prestigious gardens and stately homes. I strongly believe knowledge is to be shared and have worked closely with people and staff of all ages and abilities keen to develop their passion for gardening, including groups of children, special needs and adults. I have hosted guided walks, talks and tours for those keen to learn about cultivated and wild plants, garden development, history and design. As an member of the NNCPG and National Trust, I am actively involved in the preservation of several important plant collections both in public and private gardens throughout the UK. “It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, in a garden it’s paradise” Follow @IGrowHort on GardenTags. Stephen is passionate about gardening as Head Gardener with a team of ten staff he manages a prestigious Cheshire country estate of 55 acres, inc wild flower meadows, woodland, organic kitchen and formal gardens. Follow Stephen today”

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