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Betula nana (Dwarf Birch)

Dwarf Birch, Swamp Birch

Dwarf Birch, Swamp Birch, Betula nana
Dwarf Birch, Swamp Birch, Betula nana
Dwarf Birch, Swamp Birch, Betula nana

Betula nana, commonly known as Dwarf Birch, is a deciduous shrub that belongs to the Betulaceae family.

Betula nana: An In-depth Look

Native: This species is native to arctic and cool temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, particularly in Europe and North America.

Plant Type and Habit: Dwarf Birch is a low-growing shrub with a bushy, spreading or ascending habit.

Size: Typically, it reaches a modest height of 1 to 3 feet (30-90 cm) and a similar spread.

Flowers: The shrub produces inconspicuous, greenish-brown catkins. Male and female catkins appear on the same plant. Blooming usually occurs in late spring to early summer.

Fruits: Female catkins mature into small, cone-like structures containing winged seeds.

Foliage: The leaves are small, oval-shaped, and have a double-toothed margin. They usually turn brilliant yellow or red in autumn. The young leaves can be added to salads for flavoring.

Bark: The bark is non-peeling and shiny red-copper colored

Hardiness: Dwarf Birch is hardy to USDA zones 2-5, able to withstand extreme cold temperatures.

Uses: The shrub is often used in rock gardens, as ground cover, or in native plant landscapes. Its hardiness also makes it ideal for reclamation projects.

Wildlife: Dwarf Birch serves as a crucial food source for various wildlife species. Foliage and twigs are frequently consumed by deer, elk, moose, hares, porcupines, and beavers, often resulting in stunted growth of the plant. Its seeds are a favored food for an array of birds, as well as squirrels and wood rats.

Deer and Rabbits: The plant is not resistant to deer and rabbit grazing.

Toxicity: There’s no significant evidence to suggest that the plant is toxic to humans or pets.

Invasiveness: This species is not considered invasive in its native range.

Benefits: Apart from its ornamental value, it has ecological benefits like erosion control and providing wildlife habitat.

How to Grow and Care for a Dwarf Birch

Light: Prefers full sun for optimal growth.

Soil: Enjoys wet but well-drained sites with a nutrient-poor, acidic soil.

Water: Moderate watering needs; can tolerate some drought once established but prefers consistent moisture.

Fertilizer: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring for healthy growth.

Pruning: Minimal pruning needed, primarily to remove dead or damaged branches. Best done in late winter or early spring.

Propagation: Can be propagated by seeds. Germination is facilitated by exposure to light. Do not plant too deeply. Dwarf Birch also reproduces vegetatively, through layering and by sprouting from their root crown and/or rhizomes

Pests and Diseases: Keep an eye out for Bronze Birch Borer, Birch Leafminer, Aphids, Leaf Spot, Powdery Mildew, and Canker.

Requirements

Hardiness 2 - 5
Heat Zones 1 - 5
Plant Type Shrubs
Plant Family Betulaceae
Genus Betula
Common names Birch
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Late)
Fall
Height 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Spread 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Spacing 12" - 36"
(30cm - 90cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average, High
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Neutral, Acid
Soil Drainage Moisture Retentive, Moist but Well-Drained
Native Plants United Kingdom, United States, Maine, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, California, Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Rocky Mountains, Northeast, South Dakota, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah
Tolerance Wet Soil
Garden Uses Ground Covers
Garden Styles Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Betula populifolia (Gray Birch)
Betula pumila (Bog Birch)
Betula alleghaniensis (Yellow Birch)
Betula lenta (Sweet Birch)
Betula platyphylla (Japanese White Birch)
Betula utilis (Himalayan Birch)

Find In One of Our Guides or Gardens

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Roots of Life: Exploring the Diverse World of Trees
Green Canopy, Better World: Exploring the Benefits of Trees
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Small Trees, Big Impact: Maximize Your Garden’s Potential
Spectacular Trees for Vibrant Fall Colors: A Gardener’s Guide
Betula (Birch) – What Is Wrong With My Tree?
Betula (Birch) – Pests and Diseases to Watch Out For
Alternatives to Birch Trees Prone to Borer Attacks
Betula (Birch)
Create a Garden with Great Winter Interest
Which Birch Tree to Choose for my Garden?
Underplanting Birches
Shrubs and Trees with Attractive Winter Bark
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 2 - 5
Heat Zones 1 - 5
Plant Type Shrubs
Plant Family Betulaceae
Genus Betula
Common names Birch
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Late)
Fall
Height 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Spread 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Spacing 12" - 36"
(30cm - 90cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average, High
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Neutral, Acid
Soil Drainage Moisture Retentive, Moist but Well-Drained
Native Plants United Kingdom, United States, Maine, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, California, Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Rocky Mountains, Northeast, South Dakota, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah
Tolerance Wet Soil
Garden Uses Ground Covers
Garden Styles Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Betula (Birch)
Guides with
Betula (Birch)
Not sure which Betula (Birch) to pick?
Compare Now

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