Himalayan birch tree UK: Buying and care guide

Make a statement with elegant and practical white bark trees.

Himalayan birch

by Ellen Kinsey |

The Himalayan birch tree is elegant and beautiful, known for its spectacular white bark and lovely leaves turning a clear yellow in autumn with yellow-brown catkins appearing in early spring.

Birches are a massive hit with garden designers right now, and no wonder – they're perfect for even a modest-sized, modern plot as they don't grow too tall and don't cast large shade. And the Himalayan birch, also known as 'Betula utilis jacquemontii', is all the rage right now.

This deciduous tree that loses its foliage at the end of the autumn can grow to 18m tall, with brilliant white bark on the trunk, large branches, yellow leaves in autumn, and yellow-brown male catkins to 12cm long that open in the early spring.

If you want a Himalayan birch that’s extra special, there are some stunning varieties. Snow Queen is a little smaller at 7m, with intensely golden-yellow leaves in autumn. Grayswood Ghost has ghostly white bark and the green foliage is larger than most varieties, so it’s a great choice to offer shade to a sitting area. And if you’re a catkin lover, choose Silver Shadow which has wonderfully dangly catkins, up to 15cm long.

Here are our favourite varieties of Himalayan birch trees to buy and other helpful products to help your tree thrive for a long-lasting investment in your modern garden.

Where to buy Himalayan birch trees

Himalayan birch trees are available from garden centres and nurseries, as well as online suppliers such as Primrose, Waitrose Gardens and Trees Direct. Select a tree with a good, strong, single, upright main trunk and, if in foliage, a good covering of healthy-coloured leaves. Try to avoid trees with a malformed main trunk and dying off-colour or yellowing leaves. Here is our pick of the best variety of Himalayan birch trees.

Betula utilis var jacquemontii Himalayan Birch Tree

Betula utilis var jacquemontii | Himalayan Birch Tree

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Primrose

All trees arrive in a specially made, extra thick, cardboard box with a clamp to hold the pot in place at the bottom of the box. This prevents any movement during transit, keeping the tree safe. You can get it as 5ft, 6ft or 12ft tree.

Waitrose Gardens West Himalayan Birch

Waitrose Gardens West Himalayan Birch

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Waitrose Gardens

They are delivered as small plants approximately 20cm high in 1.5-litre pots; in time, they will grow into a spectacular tree.

Waitrose Gardens Himalayan Birch 'Grayswood Ghostu2019

Waitrose Gardens Himalayan Birch 'Grayswood Ghostu2019

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Waitrose Gardens

They are delivered as small plants approximately 1.5 - 1.8m high in a 10-litre pot. Available to order from summer

Betula utilis jacquemontii 'Grayswood Ghost' Tree

Betula utilis jacquemontii 'Grayswood Ghost' Tree

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Ornamental Trees

The tree has received the RHS Award of Garden Merit and will reach a height and spread of 8 x 4 metres in 20 years.

'Snow Queen' Tree Himalayan Birch Tree

Betula utilis jacquemontii Tree Single Stem Himalayan Birch Tree

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Ornamental Trees

The 'Snow Queen' is known for its slender form suited to smaller gardens and the whitebark developing earlier than other Himalayan birch trees. It will grow to a height and spread of 7 x 3.5 metres in 20 years.

'Snow Queen' Himalayan Birch Tree

Betula utilis var jacquemontii Himalayan Birch Tree

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Trees Direct

Revered for its white bark this tree will reach 12m high. The approximate height when sent will be 1.75m.

'Silver Shadow' Himalayan Birch Tree

Betula utilis jacquemontii 'Silver Shadow' Tree

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This 'Silver Shadow' majestic Himalayan birch tree has long catkins up to 15cm and will grow to approximately 8 x 4 metres in 20 years.

When is the best time to plant a Himalayan birch tree

The best time to plant this tree is in the winter. As long as the ground isn’t frozen, January is the optimal time to plant this tree. The tree will most likely be dormant, so your birch will start to grow again by the time the warmer weather arrives.

Your tree is best planted in the ground, but as long as you’re prepared to keep it well watered, it’ll cope with life in a big pot as well. Go for a container that’s at least 45cm in diameter.

How to plant a Himalayan birch tree

Opt for an open, sunny position in your garden for your new tree. As long as it doesn’t dry out in summer or become waterlogged in winter, Himalayan birches aren't too selective about soil. To get plants off to the best start keep the soil moist by digging in compost or other organic matter such as a soil conditioner. If you are using containers, use multipurpose or potting compost.

Himalayan birch tree
©Getty Images

How to take care of a Himalayan birch tree

It's easy to keep your birch tree tidy and in a shape that fits your garden. If you want a single trunk, then remove any side shoots that may appear at the base of a young tree. If you wish to remove or trim any branches, do your pruning in late summer or early autumn when the sap won't bleed from the cuts.

Birch trees like a bit of moisture around their roots, so be sure to water well whenever the soil or compost starts to dry out, especially during prolonged dry periods. This is important in the first few years – after that, the roots will have grown deep enough into the ground to reach moisture so it’ll be better able to support itself.

Make sure to feed the tree in the spring with a general controlled-release fertiliser like the one we have listed below. The peeling white bark is tactile so give it a gentle rub. This will also help keep the bark clear white by disturbing any green algae that grow on it. If the white trunk is ever a bit grubby, simply give it a quick washdown with warm water on a sponge to remove any algae build-up.

Himalayan birch tree buys

Levington Peat free Organic blend Soil Conditioner 50L

Levington Peat free Organic blend Soil Conditioner 50L
Amazon

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To get plants off to the best start use organic matter such as a soil conditioner. This 50L bag of soil conditioner improves soil structure to help drainage, retains moisture without waterlogging and is a natural source of organic matter.

Miracle-Gro All Purpose Compost 50 Litre

Miracle-Gro All Purpose Compost 50 Litre
Amazon

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Use multipurpose or potting compost in containers such as this 50 L such as this all-purpose compost.

Organic All Purpose Potting Compost Enriched with Nutrients

Organic All Purpose Potting Compost Enriched with Nutrients
Amazon

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This small, lightweight, easy to carry pack expands into 10 L when water is added. No need to carry around heavy bags of compost.

Miracle-Gro All Purpose Continuous Release Plant Food

Miracle-Gro 17684 All Purpose Continuous Release Plant Food
Amazon

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To give your young tree more moisture opt for a continuous release plant food such as this 1 kg smart release system plant food that feeds plants for up to 6 months with all the vital minerals, NPK and trace elements

YouGarden Complete Tree Planting Kit

YouGarden Complete Tree Planting Kit
Amazon

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The YouGarden Complete Tree Planting Kit come with three 45L grow pods, three stakes, three ties and a pack of root growth. Now with a free sachet of beneficial Mycorrhizal fungi to aid root development.

Elixir Gardens Large Plant Pot (45L)

Elixir Gardens Large Plant Pot (45L)
Amazon

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Made from durable HDPE plastic, this container will last many seasons before it needs replacing.

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