How to Care for River Birch Trees

The River Birch Tree is commonly found near swamps and rivers and flood plains. It can be found throughout the Midwest, including in Southern Minnesota. It is abnormally heat-tolerant for a birch tree, which are usually cold-weather trees. Having a river birch in your yard will provide you with an aesthetically pleasing tree with bark that peels like paper in the winter. Here is how to care for a river birch for a long and healthy life.


The river birch should be watered slowly. This will allow the water to seep into each area that you water and penetrate deep into the soil around the tree. A soaker hose works best if you have one. You can run it about a foot from the drip line and water it once a week during the spring and summer. After 15 minutes of watering, dig a hole a foot deep. If the soil is dry at the bottom, then water for another 15 minutes.


Use a layer of mulch that is around 3 inches thick. It should be spread as evenly as possible around the tree, but make sure it is 6 inches that separate it from the trunk. If you are using a soaker hose, then make sure to cover it with the mulch. This will inhibit weeds and will also insulate the soil. If it is a new tree, the mulch should be placed in a 3 foot radius. It should be 6 feet for older trees.


A river birch should not need any fertilizer unless there is an issue with the soil that needs balancing. Make sure to follow the directions for the fertilizer if it is needed to keep the tree safe from harm.


Dead branches should be removed as often as possible to keep the soil clear, as well as to keep the tree and its surroundings looking nice. If you need to prune the tree, wait until near the end of the growing season. Late summer or early fall is the best time period for pruning.

The river birch is a beautiful ornamental tree that can add some visual appeal to your yard. Make sure to follow these tips to keep it looking healthy for years to come.