Birch trees are charming and popular trees, notable mostly for their rapid growth and for their attractive bark. Many people are familiar with the white-barked birches, but there are serious pest problems in growing them. The native river birch is a good alternative. It also has beautiful peeling bark, but in many shades of pink, orange, tan and dark-red, making a colorful show in the garden, especially in winter and spring. However, this tree grows best in cooler areas and in damp soil. To change that, plant breeders have worked to improve the tree and they developed the Dura Heat River Birch, which as the name suggests is much more tolerant of heat and drought, as well as having more attractive bark and being more resistant to drought, pests and diseases.
The Dura Heat River Birch will quickly grow into a graceful tree with slightly pendulous branches and a unique lightness that only birch trees have. The beauty of their bark, their thin twigs and delicate hanging leaves all create a light and airy effect, quite different from denser trees like maple. This makes it a good choice for the smaller or medium-sized garden because it will not dominate the area or create a lot of dense shade that can be hard to grow other plants in. It will not cause damage with roots, so this tree can be planted closer to buildings and sewage pipes than many other trees.
Most birch trees need cooler weather to do well, but the Dura Heat River Birch is happy in hot, humid weather, making it the ideal choice if you live in a warmer area such as the South, where other birch trees will not do well. It is hardy in zone 4, all the way into zone 9, so it can be grown almost anywhere.
The Dura Heat River Birch is a medium-sized tree that can reach 30 to 40 feet in height and be up to 25 feet across. The main feature of this tree is the bark, which is an attractive pinkish-brown color and peels off in a picturesque fashion, revealing new, lighter-colored bark below and giving even young trees lots of character. Older trunks eventually become ridged and dark-brown in color. The leaves are up to 3 inches long and 2 inches wide, a triangular-oval shape and pointed toward the tip. There are tiny soft teeth along the edges of the leaves. In fall the leaves turn a wonderful shade of soft yellow, like a glowing candle in the sun. Once your tree is a little older you will see it flowering in early spring, before the leaves. The flowers are tiny, in narrow clusters called ‘catkins’ that hang down and are 2 to 3 inches long. These add a charm to the tree as the seasons change and spring arrives.
The Dura Heat River Birch should be grown in a sunny location, and it can be planted in heavy clay soil that is often wet. It can even be planted in flooded soil, so it is an ideal choice for low-lying areas of your property, or along river banks. It will also grow in regular soil and does best in soil that is acid to neutral. Plant the Dura Heat River Birch as a single specimen, or as a beautiful group of trees, since birch always looks lovely in a group. This tree also makes a great fast-growing boundary tree to your property, or a wind-break. Because it thrives in wet conditions it is also great for preventing river-bank erosion.
The River Birch, Betula nigra, is an American native tree that grows naturally throughout the east, from New Jersey to Georgia and from Texas to Nebraska. It is usually found in swampy areas and low-lying regions subject to flooding. Although it does not occur naturally further north than zone 6, it is hardy right into zone 4, meaning that this tree will grow in gardens across the whole country except for southern Florida and southern California. The form trademarked as ‘Dura Heat’ was developed by selection from seedling trees grown from seed taken from wild plants growing in Florida. These had a natural genetic resistance to heat, and the most heat and pest resistant seedlings were used to develop this variety. Seedling trees of the wild river birch will not show the same resistance, so choose the best.
Choose a sunny location for your tree and place it at least 10 feet from a building, swimming pool or septic system and 6 feet from a driveway. If you are creating a group of Dura Heat River Birch, trees can be planted within 3 feet of each other to form a clump, or further apart, perhaps 10 feet, to make a grouping. For a boundary row or along a stream, allow 10 to 15 feet between trees, depending on how dense you want the row to be.
The Dura Heat River Birch is a popular tree, and because it is so adaptable and dependable it is often in high demand. We constantly receive new stock, but shortages can arise, so order now to avoid disappointment.