The Life Span of the River Birch

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    Life Span

    • All varieties of birch trees, including river birch, are short-lived and do not have as healthy or long lives as compared to other trees. It is hard to maintain the health of birch trees and tree health generally starts to decline after a few years of planting. The majority of trees die before they are fully mature. A river birch in good health has a life span of 40 to 50 years. River birch trees that are not healthy usually have a life span of less than 20 years.

    Factors Affecting Life Span

    • River birch trees that are growing under poorly suited conditions are most prone to problems that in turn directly affect life span. These conditions include an improperly selected site for growing the tree, selecting varieties that are not adapted to local growing conditions, failure to provide the recommended cultural care to the tree after planting and ineffective pest and disease control in trees.


    • For healthy growth, plant the river birch tree in a moist and acidic soil. Being native to pond and stream banks, floodplains and lake shores and given their very shallow roots, the river birch has a high moisture requirement and low resistance to drought. River birch trees do not grow well in dry or hot soils and start to wilt if not adequately irrigated. Established trees are more tolerant of regular garden soils.


    • Plant river birch in an area of full to partial sun for healthy foliage growth. Select a site where the ground remains partially shaded, moist and cool throughout the day. Recommended sites include the east or north sides of the house where the tree will have some shade from the hot afternoon sun. Do not plant on the western or southern areas as the ground is prone to drying quickly in these sites. When selecting a site for a new tree, look for shaded landscape areas at mid to late afternoon.

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