River birch

Asked June 26, 2019, 4:58 PM EDT

My river birch (approximately 5 yrs old) has 1/2 the leaves it has had in the past. The leaves seem smaller but healthy. There are no bug marks or yellowing. There is just significantly less foliage per branch. Is this a cycle river birch experience? Do I need to fertilizer it? Please advise. Kari

Hennepin County Minnesota river birch

1 Response

Thanks for the question.

Although River Birches are pretty hardy trees in Minnesota, this has been a challenging growing season with our extremely cold January days and a spring with highly irregular temperatures. We believe that these conditions probably killed many of the emerging leaf buds. Although with only half the foliage the tree will be stressed this season it should survive. Be sure to water it well during the upcoming warm summer days. Fertilizing at this point should not be done, especially if your tree showed good growth last year.

Check out the following sites for further information (pay particular information to the first site – click on “birch”):

https://apps.extension.umn.edu/garden/diagnose/plant/deciduous/birch/

https://extension.umn.edu/trees-and-shrubs/river-birch

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/all_season_trees_river_birch

If your river birch does not show some signs of recovery by late summer, you may want to have a professional, licensed arborist look at it. Here is a University of Minnesota publication that should provide you information about selecting such an individual:

https://extension.umn.edu/planting-and-growing-guides/how-hire-tree-care-professional

Good luck!!