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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Thursday - June 04, 2009

From: Jersey City, NJ
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Care of non-native Betula pendula 'Youngii' (Young's Weeping Birch)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We planted a Young's Weeping Birch on the side of our house here in NJ a few weeks ago and it seems to be thriving. When we purchased Fred (which is what we've named our youngster), he was in a pot and has a stick about three feet to keep him straight. He has started to droop where the stick ends and is currently about five feet tall. If we would like Fred to grow to about 8 to 10 feet tall, should we change the stick to a long stick and train him to that height and then let him droop? Or should we let him droop the way he is now and if so, will he grow to 8 feet high? One last question, some of Fred's branches are now trailing on the ground, since we took him out of the pot, he is now lower to the ground. I've read that you shouldn't trim a birch due to the insects it attracts in the summer, but I wasn't sure if it's healthy to have his leaves trailing on the ground either. Thoughts?

ANSWER:

Our expertise and focus at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center are with plants native to North America and Betula pendula 'Youngii' (Young's weeping birch), a European native, is NOT native to North America. It, and other varieties of Betula pendula (European white birch), have been used extensively as landscaping plants in North America, however, so there is lots of information concerning its care.  Please see the following links for more information:

Birch Tree Care

How to Grow and Maintain a Healthy Birch Tree

You can find even more information sites by googling "Betula pendula Youngii'" or simpley "Betula pendula".

 

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