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How to cultivate the Birch

How to cultivate the Birch

The Birch (Betula, L., 1753) is a genus of plants of the Betulaceae family that includes over 40 original species of the northern hemisphere. These are heliophilous and pioneer plants that rapidly occupy areas discovered after fires or cutting. They can form pure woods or present themselves in groups and isolated elements. In this sheet we will see how to cultivate the Birch, considering that some species are cultivated for the quality and color of the bark, which can take several years to develop, and for the golden color of the leaves in autumn.The birches, in the early stages grow fast, up to 7 to 18 m in height, but always remain suitable for small gardens due to their tendency not to expand too much.In general the birch, can reach, in age adult 20-25 m tall, and does not exceed 80 years of life. It has thin branches, small leaves, light green, which turn yellow in autumn; the bark, smooth and thin, becomes white with age, developing characteristic black streaks at the points where it is desquama. The flowers of the Birch are long inflorescences of brownish-yellow color; the seeds appear in autumn, yellow and are surrounded by a brown membrane, which allows them to move from the wind even many meters.

As for the exposure the birches are very rustic plants and their ideal location is in full sun . Do not suffer frosts in winter (withstand up to -20 ° C), and also tolerate summer heat well. With regard to the types of soil suitable is a plant that adapts well to any type of soil, but it is good to avoid growing it in soils too calcareous and little or poorly drained. For the planting of birch the most suitable period is that late autumn or early spring, especially if the plant is bare-rooted. For the plant it is necessary to prepare a rather wide and deep hole of about 50 cm. Together with the plant, it is recommended to also place a sturdy and long-legged brace. We must also remember that the collar must emerge imperceptibly from the ground level, after which we must cover the compost and press well. It is also advisable to create a small basin around the trunk and then subsequently irrigate it abundantly. It can be multiplied naturally by seed and by cuttings of the suckers. As for irrigations and fertilizations, the birches do not need particular attention: they grow well spontaneously, without excessive care. The only intervention that can be considered useful is to mulch the base well in areas with too harsh winters or during periods of considerable drought, especially in the first years of life. As for adversities and phytopathological diseases, the birches are plants often attacked by aphids and mealybugs: especially in the early years it is recommended to remove them mechanically, with cotton swab soaked in alcohol or resorting to treatments based on Marseille soap, when the plants start to have extensive foliage if the infestations are intense. remember that from the bark, from the buds, lymph and leaves, the birches are well used in herbal medicine through infusions, decoctions and some dry extracts. From the leaves and the resin, a very useful oil is obtained in the herbal and medical field. Its primary property is to be of help to facilitate the diuretic and slimming effects, thanks to the presence of flavonoids.As for some plants we must pay attention to allergic reactions: individuals allergic to pollens can suffer from the use of this plant’s sap . Furthermore, it is not recommended to use it when taking other pharmaceutical products, for similar diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties; do not consume it under pregnant or lactation conditions.

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