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What Kills a White Birch?

White birch trees are beloved by gardeners and homeowners, because of their smooth white bark and soft, heart-shaped leaves. Because several varieties of white birch -- such as the paper birch and gray birch -- are native to North America, they grow easily in many parts of the continent. This does not mean, however, that they are invulnerable. White birches can be weakened or killed by pests and environmental threats. If you understand these threats and know how to handle them, you can keep your white birch trees healthy and beautiful.


    • 1

      Plant white birches in appropriate locations. They're more likely to die if planted in unsuitable environments. Birches prefer cool, moist (but not wet) soil, and do not do well in acidic or compacted soil -- though white birches tolerate some acidity in soil better than do other birch varieties. Keeping them healthy also makes them less vulnerable to insect infestations.

    • 2

      Provide your white birches with adequate water and fertilizer. White birches do not tolerate drought conditions and need regular water and nutrition in order to survive. Have the soil in your area tested to ensure it can provide proper nutrients for your tree. You may need to help it out with fertilizer.

    • 3

      Watch for birch leafminers, tiny insects native to Europe. Their larvae live within birch leaves and feed on the tissue inside. Damage from birch leafminers first appears as tiny yellow spots on leaves, which later grow and become brown, before killing off the leaves entirely.

    • 4

      Trim and immediately remove dead branches and leaves. These could harbor bronzed birch borers, beetles whose larvae burrow into white birch trees and eventually kill them by cutting off sap production. Bronzed leaf borers are difficult to eradicate, so it’s crucial to prevent them from infesting your tree in the first place.

    • 5

      Avoid injuring the tree. Bronzed leaf borers are more likely to infest white birches with open wounds, so take care not to damage the exterior of the tree. While the strong, flexible bark of white birches has traditionally been used to make canoes, don’t remove too much of it from any tree. Doing so could kill it.