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River birch Trees - A Great Tree For The Chalfont Pa. Area

from: William James

River Birch Trees are fairly easy to plant because they are
fairly rugged and durable. Yet to plant or transplant them you
do need to follow some basic guidelines. Two of the best
cultivars or River Birch trees are Dura Heat and Heritage River
Birches. We have been growing River Birch Trees for a number of
years and offer these suggestions for planting in and around
Chalfont Pa..

All people handling Dura Heat and Heritage River Birches
seedlings and small trees need to help with the life support of
your plants. Seedlings are like fish out of water and need care
which is often overlooked between the time the seedlings are
lifted and transplanted. Improper care means higher mortality.
Do not try and reinvent the wheel. You must protect seedling
from moisture and temperature extremes, as well as physical
damage. Seedlings are living and should be handled carefully.
For a higher survival rate, treat trees carefully and plant them
immediately. I like to have a backup plan for planting if the
weather turns bad. I will sometimes switch from lining out the
seedlings to potting them up if I realize that the soil
conditions will not be right for an extended lenght of time. If
planting must be delayed a few days, keep the plants in a cold,
protected place with air circulation between the trees. Keep the
Dura Heat and Heritage River Birches trees out of the rain and
wind. To check if the trees need water, feel the media at the
roots.. If it isn't damp, water the trees and allow the excess
water to drain. In cool, damp weather, the biggest threat to
these trees is from mold. Try to keep out of soil seedlings
moist by either restricting water loss with a water vapor
barrier or by wetting the roots at regular intervals. While
handling or planting try to reduce temperature and air movement
around the seedlings. Windy days can dry out seedlings so
consider waiting for calmer weather. Once your soil conditions
are correct OUR FREE USE PLANTERS will make planting a snap so
its will be worth waiting for good planting conditions.


Ideal planting days are cool and cloudy with little or no wind.
If possible, avoid planting on warm, windy days. The soil should
be moist not wet. Care in planting is more important than speed.
Make sure the roots are never allowed to become dry. Bare root
seedlings should be carried in a waterproof bag or bucket with
plenty of moist material packed around the roots to keep them
damp. Ideally, bare root boxes should be kept refrigerated or
packed in ice or snow. Don't freeze the trees. Competition from
weeds, grass, brush or other trees is very detrimental to
survival and growth of seedlings. Choose areas free from this
competition or clear at least a three-foot square bare spot
before planting. Seedlings should not be planted under the crown
of existing trees, or closer than 6 feet to existing brush.
Avoid areas near walnut trees. Brush aside loose organic
material such as leaves, grass, etc., from the planting spot to
expose mineral soil. If organic matter gets into the planting
hole, it can decompose and leave air spaces. Roots will dry out
when they grow into these spaces. Open up the hole, making sure
the hole is deep enough for the roots to be fully extended. If
roots are curled or bunched up, the tree will not be able to
take up water correctly, will often weaken and die, or may blow
down later due to poor root structure. Take a tree out of your
planting bag or bucket only after a hole is ready. When exposed,
the fine roots can dry out in as little as 30 seconds. Seedling
shoots and roots lose water to air, roots require more
protecting.Unlike leaves ,they do not have stomata (closeable
openings on the surface of the leaves) or any waxy coatings to
help reduce water loss. If the Dura Heat and Heritage River
Birches roots apear dry they are probably dead. Now I know you
are thinking,"I will place them in a buckect of water and store
them there until planting". This will not work. Submerge plants
for no longer that a couple of minutes. Placing them in water
cuts them off from oxygen. Remember to remove the container
before planting a containerized tree. A helpful hint to all
those new gardeners just starting is to remember to always plant
green side up. Hold the seedling in place in the hole, making
sure the roots are straight, fully extended and that the tree is
neither too shallow or too deep in the hole. Fill hole, allowing
soil to fall in around the roots. Tamp with hands or with your
heel. Don't crush the roots by jumping up and down around the
seedling like there is a snake curled up around the seedling. It
is delicate. Fill with more soil, if necessary, and tamp.
Tamping is important. If soil is not firmly packed around the
roots, there will be air pockets that can dry out the roots, and
the seedlings may be weakly anchored. It is far easier to plant
the tree strait up then have the tree leaning and have to adjust
the tree later. (Addition of fertilizer and plant vitamins at
the time of planting is not generally necessary.) Take your time
in planting. Proper spacing will help you grow a more valuable
crop. I have tried to get more production from a limited area by
over planting and then thinning, but I always have had trouble
in harvesting .... digging is slower and poor quality usually
results for a portion of the crop. Avoid these tree planting

Tangled roots Planting too shallow Planting too deep Air pockets
Turned up roots (this is called J rooting) Planting trees that
are not tolerant of wet soils in poorly drained areas Planting
over rocks, septic tanks and leach fields, on sand mounds

CARE OF TREES FOLLOWING PLANTING Check periodically to be sure
that brush, grass and other vegetation is kept under control by
mowing, mulching, spraying or a combination of these treatments.
Always obtain advice from a licensed pest control advisor before
using chemicals. You ag extension agency may offer courses in
application of chemicals. Monitoring the appearance of your
trees will help you to detect signs of insects, diseases or
other problems. Apperances also help sell your product. Look for
foliage turning yellow, new foliage drooping or other signs of
poor health. It is easier to take successful corrective action
if the problem is detected early.

Over watering is a common problem in irrigated plantations. You
probably won't need to water more frequently than every 7-10
days. Give your trees a thorough, deep soak and then let the
soil dry out before the next watering. This encourages the roots
to grow down in search of water. Frequent, shallow watering
encourages root growth near the surface and the trees are more
dependent on irrigation and are less windfirm. Animals can be a
major cause of damage to young trees. Porcupines, gophers, mice,
rabbits, deer and cattle are the most frequent source of damage.
In many states you may have to call your game commission and get
their recomendations on legal methods to protect your crop. In
our state, you can get help from the Pa. Game Commission to kill
deer that are a threat to your seedlings or obtain a free fence
to keep deer away from your seedlings. Over the years we have
lost more trees to mice than any other animal. Put rat baits out
on a regular basis. Over the years we have lost more seedlings
and plants to mice than any other culprit including deer and
rabbitts combined. You can see other articles written by Bill
Hirst about trees, plants, and shrubs at

About the author:

Bill has been growing trees and plants in Pennsylvania for over
25 years. His web sites include


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