Betula pendula

Birch

Bonsai care and maintenance

The silver birch is a deciduous tree native to Europe and parts of Asia and is well-known for its characteristic white bark. It can reach a height of up to 25 meters (80ft) with a slender trunk which seldom exceeds 1' (30cm) in diameter.

Silver birch Bonsai video
SELECTING TREE SPECIES

Birch Bonsai Care guidelines

Placement

Birches love bright sunny places and should be exposed to the weather. During periods of extreme heat it might be advisable to protect them from the midday sun in order to prevent burned leaves.

Watering

The birch is a very thirsty tree and in summer it needs a lot of water. If you work long hours, you can even place the bonsai pot in a shallow water bowl during the hottest time in order to provide enough water. But at the same time it is important not to let the roots soak all the time. In winter the birch must be kept slightly moist. Continue reading about watering Bonsai trees.

Watering

Free lecture from the Beginners Course
Fertilizing

Apply solid organic fertilizer every four weeks or use a liquid fertilizer every week during the growing season. Always apply the liquid fertilizer on moist soil.

Pruning and wiring

The birch takes trimming and pruning very well, but the wood rots quickly if you produce large cuts. This often leads to hollow trunks. If you want to style the branches and twigs in a hanging shape, you will have to wire them very often as the new shoots keep growing vertically. Weaker branches tend to die when they are wired. Guy-wiring or hanging weights on the branches are sometimes better methods for shaping the branches of the birch. Continue reading about pruning Bonsai trees.

Repotting

Repot the silver birch every two to four years. About ¼ of the roots can be removed. The birch is not very demanding to the soil. But although the tree needs much water you should use a well-draining soil mix. Continue reading about repotting Bonsai trees.

Propagation

The birch Bonsai is easily propagated from seed, but can also be grown from semi-hardwood cuttings. For more detailed information on these techniques, try our Bonsai tree care section.

Pests and diseases

Aphids and sawfly larvae can attack the birch, but can be controlled with a specific insecticide. If birch rust occurs, a special fungicide is needed. For more detailed information on these techniques, check out our Bonsai tree care section.

Silver Birch Bonsai
Silver birch Bonsai (Betula pendula)

General information about the Silver birch Bonsai tree

Young trees have a golden-brown bark first which turns white later and peels off in paper-like flakes. On old trees the bark becomes partly rough and blackish. The birch has an elegant shape with flexible hanging twigs swinging in the wind. Its leaves are triangular with double-toothed, serrated margins. The leaves are light green to medium green and turn yellow early in the autumn before the leaves fall. In spring the female catkins mature and the male catkins release great amounts of pollen, which is transported by the wind. The small winged seeds ripen in late summer and are spread widely by the wind.

Birches are well suited for bonsai, especially as they grow well in a bonsai pot and are among the most frost hardy species, but they tend to let branches die now and then for no reason. This can be a big challenge as it often makes a change of the design necessary. There are several other birch species and cultivars which can be chosen for bonsai and have similar characteristics and needs. If you need help identifying your tree, take a look at our Bonsai tree identification guide.

Master the art of Bonsai

Master the art of Bonsai
Overview of our courses

Master the art of Bonsai

Online Bonsai Courses Learn from leading Bonsai experts at your own pace, from the comfort of your living room!

Continue exploring

Fertilizing

Fertilizing

Learn how to fertilize your tree

Fertilizing Bonsai
Tree species

Tree species

Find species-specific information on your tree

Popular tree species
Repotting

Repotting

How to repot your tree

Repotting Bonsai