Birch Work (Betula pubescens)

This Birch has been about the place for some years now and it needed a bit of a clean up. The tree is a little short of branches here and there and I have made quite a few unsuccessful attempts at approach grafting new shoots in past years.  I think I have succeeded with two and they were pretty ugly. The approach shoot seems to swell greatly at the point where it is in contact with the branch. This gives the appearance that it has taken but when the binding (usually cable ties or rafia) is removed,  the graft and the branch just separate.

I have just made four attempts at thread grafting by drilling a hole in the receiving branch and threading the graft through. I have then sealed the hole with cling film and then a layer of cut paste to keep out the moisture. Here’s hoping !!!

This could be a nice tree if the grafts take or if I could somehow persuade the tree to throw out some shoots where I need new branches.

It was re-potted spring 2012 and seemed to do very little that year and I  let it grow unchecked last year before giving it a bit of a trim in the late autumn. I don’t intend to prune any further until the new seasons growth is well under way. I have been told that this is the received wisdom for birch. It did work last year and as the pics show there is plenty of back-budding on the existing branches and shoots.

This is the very helpful comment I received from Jeff Kinsman in May 2012. Quote “Be careful! Silver Birches don’t like being pruned hard they are dormant, particularly with limited root-stock. I’ve made this mistake before – they shoot hard from the base of the trunk and you get major dieback of important lower branches, and even canopy. You’re better off pruning them late in the spring. They’re nothing at all like maples. They also prefer to be root pruned after they leaves have started budding. Sounds strange, I know . . . And they seem to need extra turning of the pot over the growing season so that they don’t have dieback on the shady side of the tree. They’re an oddly tricky little tree to bonsai, but their trunks take on great character. Your tree is nice, so good luck!”

The tree in spring 2012

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