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Betula pumila (Bog Birch)

Bog Birch, American Dwarf Birch, Dwarf Birch, Low Birch, Swamp Birch

bog birch, swamp birch, betula pumila

Betula pumila, commonly known as bog birch or swamp birch, is a deciduous shrub native to North America. It typically forms multiple stems with simple, ovate leaves and yellowish-brown, scaly bark.

Betula pumila: An In-depth Look

Native: This plant is native to northeastern and north-central North America and is commonly found in wetlands, bogs, and swamps.

Plant Type and Habit: It is a deciduous shrub that exhibits a multi-stemmed, bushy growth habit.

Size: Betula pumila can reach a height of 4 to 12 feet (120-360 cm), with a similar spread, depending on environmental conditions.

Flowers: Female catkins are cylindrical and sport a reddish hue, whereas the male catkins, which appear on the same stems, are yellow in color. Both male and female catkins appear in the fall and develop through the winter, opening in spring.

Fruits: The female catkins mature into cone-like structures holding small, winged seeds.

Foliage: The fleshy leaves are simple, ovate, with coarsely toothed margins. They are alternately arranged andusually display a medium green color that turns yellow in the fall.

Bark: The bark on older stems takes on a brownish-grey hue, whereas the newer bark exhibits a rich, deep red-brown color. Both are speckled with lenticels—features that may fade over time but never completely disappear.

Hardiness: This species is hardy in USDA zones 2-6, capable of withstanding cold temperatures.

Uses: Betula pumila is commonly used in wetland restoration projects and can serve as an ornamental plant in water gardens or rain gardens.

Wildlife: The seeds are a food source for various bird species, while the foliage serves as a habitat for certain butterfly and moth larvae.

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

Salt: Bog Birch tolerates road salt.

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: The shrub plays an important role in stabilizing wetland ecosystems and is valuable for wildlife. Its attractive foliage and fall color make it a decent ornamental choice.
With its unique adaptability to challenging wetland environments and multi-seasonal interest, Betula pumila stands as a valuable addition to both native landscapes and cultivated gardens.

How to Grow and Care for a Bog Birch

Light: Betula pumila thrives in full sun. Make sure the plant receives at least 6 hours of sunlight daily for optimum growth.

Soil: Prefers alkaline to neutral, well-drained, and moist soil. It naturally grows in boggy and wetland areas.

Water: Keep the soil consistently moist, especially during the first year of growth. Drought tolerance is low, and it prefers wet conditions.

Fertilizer: Apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer in the spring. Be cautious not to over-fertilize, as this could lead to an imbalance of nutrients.

Pruning: Minimal pruning is required. Remove any dead or damaged branches in late winter or early spring to encourage new growth.

Propagation: Propagate by seeds or softwood cuttings. Seeds need a period of cold stratification for germination.

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

Requirements

Hardiness 2 - 6
Plant Type Shrubs
Plant Family Betulaceae
Genus Betula
Common names Birch
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 4' - 12'
(120cm - 3.7m)
Spread 4' - 12'
(120cm - 3.7m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average, High
Soil Type Clay, Loam
Soil pH Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moisture Retentive, Poorly Drained
Native Plants United States, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, Northeast, California, Midwest, Nebraska, North Dakota, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado
Tolerance Wet Soil, Clay Soil, Salt
Attracts Birds
Garden Uses Bog Gardens, Rain Gardens, Water Gardens
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Betula populifolia (Gray Birch)
Betula nana (Dwarf Birch)
Betula alleghaniensis (Yellow Birch)
Betula lenta (Sweet Birch)
Betula platyphylla (Japanese White Birch)
Betula utilis (Himalayan Birch)

Recommended Companion Plants

Larix laricina (American Larch)
Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam)
Abies balsamea (Balsam Fir)
Aronia melanocarpa (Black Chokeberry)
Cornus amomum (Silky Dogwood)
Physocarpus opulifolius (Common Ninebark)

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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 - 6
Plant Type Shrubs
Plant Family Betulaceae
Genus Betula
Common names Birch
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 4' - 12'
(120cm - 3.7m)
Spread 4' - 12'
(120cm - 3.7m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average, High
Soil Type Clay, Loam
Soil pH Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moisture Retentive, Poorly Drained
Native Plants United States, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, Northeast, California, Midwest, Nebraska, North Dakota, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado
Tolerance Wet Soil, Clay Soil, Salt
Attracts Birds
Garden Uses Bog Gardens, Rain Gardens, Water Gardens
Garden Styles 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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