Thread: River Birch Not Fully Budding

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  1. #11
    Super Moderator Oak Quirky Quercus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004

    Re: RE: River Birch Not Fully Budding

    Quote Originally Posted by Upperhand
    Quote Originally Posted by Quirky Quercus
    What are the reasons they give for fertilizing a tree that doesn't need fertilization?
    Mainly for boosting growth and vigor, and for overall health of the tree. Fertilizer is like vitamin supplements for trees - people don't necessarily need vitamin supplements, perhaps their diets are ideal, but in most cases diets are not ideal, and vitamin supplementation will (again, correct dosing is important) provide benefit and improve health.

    Within the N-P-K spektrum, the nitrogen acts as a jump-start for new growth, phosphate is great for the root development (though phosphate should NOT be used if you live *anywhere* near lakes or streams - in some areas it is illegal to use fertilizer with any amount of phosphate), and Potassium (K) is vital for plant cell wall thickening and robustness (helps protect trees from frost/freeze damage in the northern states). These 3 nutrients are present in soil in various quantities, though sometimes not sufficient for ideal tree health. Virtually no soil is *ideal*, often iron is lacking, pH is off, or both potassium/phosphate are in short supply. The point is, fertilizer ensures that the nutrients (N-P-K) do become available for trees, and all 3 of the "essential" nutrients are beneficial in additional amounts even if a soil test shows adequate levels of these nutrients already present in the soil. Organic fertilizers (i.e. manure) work best, but more slowly than granular or liquid fertilizers. However, granular/liquid fertilizers certainly *can* be harmful if they are too concentrated or used excessively. Moderation is key, following instructions and having a good understanding of how fertilizers work will certainly result in improved growth, vigor, and plant robustness in virtually 100% of cases where used correctly.
    So in other words what you are trying to say is fertilizer is recommended when there is some nutrient deficiency in the soil and the trees don't appear vigorous? Otherwise, what could be the reason for making an already vigorous tree more vigorous?

    Are you sure what you're reading is not about fertilizing field or container grown nursery plants? Because that's different. And potting mix soil is much different in terms than native soil.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    NE Tennessee

    RE: River Birch Not Fully Budding

    Current ANSI standard as well as best management practice is NOT to fertilize trees without evidence of nutrient deficiency. END OF STORY.

    Lots of companies will offer fert., doesn't make it the right thing to do. It is basically a waste of money. Nursery plants need fert. because they are watered regularly and much of the nutrition leaches out of the pot. VERY FEW nurserymen keep current with ANSI standards for tree care. Plant care in nurseries is aimed a making a marketable product in as short a time as posssible, not the best care for the tree. If you want to improve vigor, build up soil organics and beneficial bact.

    You should never push growth on a stressed tree. New transplants are STRESSED TREES. The tree needs it's energy reserves to go toward defense not new growth.

    Fertilizers are ruining our ground water and poluting our planet. Use them sparingly and only when necessary. WE CAN NOT FEED TREES, TREES MAKE THEIR OWN FOOD FROM SUNLIGHT AND WATER. River Birch are tough trees. Just be patient and see what happens. Many times, when digging clump trees, too many of the roots are severed that supply one or more of the stems and you will have some dieback. It will most likely recover. If it does not, prune out the dead to a lateral or a viable bud.

    I did recommend fert for the Dogwood in another post, but when I say fertilize, I mean compost. That is how the trees in the forest get ALL of the nutrition they need. You can add compost every year without having to worry about over fertilizing. The bacteria break down plant material slowly and release it over time. No chemicals, no leaching. If you don't make your own, you can get it at any of the home stores for less than two dollars a bag.

    Hope this is helpfull.
    "EDUCATION begins when you question something. EDUCATION occurs when you have resolved your doubts" Alex Shigo

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Eastern PA

    RE: River Birch Not Fully Budding

    watsont covered all the bases, and I second that advice.

    Green Man Enviroscaping LLC

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Sylva NC zone 7

    RE: River Birch Not Fully Budding

    If you feed a tree it might get bigger and grow more fast and bloom more and you might get to see it get full sized quicker. I see people do it with flowers and bushes and trees.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Eastern PA

    RE: River Birch Not Fully Budding

    Bigger and faster are not always best.

    If you overfertilize ~ and if you are fertilizing and you're not doing soil tests and not adding only the nutrients that are deficient in quantities and forms that the soil food web and the plant in question requires at the time of year when the growth that results from the influx of nutrients can be sustained, then you are overfertilizing ~ you are running the risk of destroying the plant in question.

    In this case, for this question, the tree is a transplant. It needs 1-2 years ~ at least ~ to establish itself fully. Transplanted trees almost always lose roots in the process, and they need time to get settled, let bits above ground that the remaining roots can't support die off, and, eventually, return to growth . The tree will get all the nutrients it needs during this time from the soil. The root zone should be covered with a natural mulch. If the soil was poor to begin with, aged compost could be worked in prior to planting or added as or under the mulch.

    Green Man Enviroscaping LLC

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Western NY, Zone 6

    RE: River Birch Not Fully Budding

    I agree with the statements above about fertilizing - i.e. avoiding its use for stressed trees, damage to environment, etc. To clarify, I fertilize in the Fall after dormancy has set in (leaves have all dropped) - at a time when the tree is *not* stressed. The arborist in my area (also a personal friend of mine) recommends this practice for new and old trees alike, though in my particular situation my property is very flat and does not drain off (water just sits in my yard) or leech chemicals into other areas of the environment, especially not lakes or streams. I fertilize my lawn twice per season (late Fall and early Spring) with 10-10-10 (which is also broadcasted lightly onto tree mulch inadvertently), my lawn is much greener and healthier than my neighbors' lawns, evidence that the fertilizer stays put when applied. The idea of a dormancy fertilization is to aid the root growth and to "winterize" the tree to increase its chances of surviving a harsh Winter.

    Fertilizing is certainly not the way to go for everyone, but as I mentioned earlier, the additional supplementation does help non-stressed trees by ensuring that the necessary nutrients are available in adequate amounts for hardiness, vigor, and growth. I never fertilize a newly planted or transplanted tree, but do add compost (such as peat moss, manure, etc.) which I till into the soil where the tree is planted to help that stressed tree root properly. I recommend avoiding chemical fertilizers entirely if there is any risk of runoff carrying those chemicals into lakes and streams. If you live on flat land with poor drainage (like I do) and heavy, rich, clay soil, it's less of a concern. Organic fertilizers, such as compost and manure, are preferable in almost every case because they do not pose as high a threat to the environment. I will clarify at this point that the River Birch in question in this thread should be fertilized with compost/organic fertilizer. If the property does not have a lot of runoff water which strays into the environment, granular 10-10-10 fertilizer would be fine if applied lightly during the late Fall after the leaves have dropped.

  7. #17

    RE: River Birch Not Fully Budding

    Update on my River Birches. The top half of two of the trees in the clump are still not budding. However the lower branches that did bud are growing very well.

    I spoke with the owner of the tree farm a few weeks ago and he said he sees Birches do that often.

    I am going to give him another call soon. I've got a guarantee on these but I'm not too crazy about getting them respaded and putting ruts in the yard again. I'd much rather have them come around, but I think that ship has sailed.

    As big as they are, I am afraid how butchered they will look if I have to trim the dead branches and leaders back.

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Central Indiana

    RE: River Birch Not Fully Budding

    I had a river birch clumb die back on me like that. I pruned away the
    dead branches and new leaders quickly developed. Today, you'd never know that they'd had a rough transplant. In my case, I moved them after planting--twice!! They did great when and where I first planted them, but
    I was afraid that they were across the property line, so I moved them the next spring. Then, I moved them again because I thought I had a bad location for them.

    Now, it is four years later, and they're doing fine in the final spot.

    I learned my lesson about planning ahead! Oh, and it turned out that, after the survey, they would have been fine in the first spot!

  9. #19

    RE: River Birch Not Fully Budding

    Thanks for the info SuburbanSprawl. Can you post a picture of your River Birch?

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