Which Birch Trees Will Grow Successfully in Texas?

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Home » Texas » Which Birch Trees Will Grow Successfully in Texas?

Birch trees can successfully grow in Texas!

However, because Texas itself has such diversity in climates and growing conditions, the type of Birch tree depends on where you live.

Texas spans from USDA Growing Zones 6b to 10a, and has almost every climate from desert to wetland. So, it helps to know which kinds of Birch trees grow where.

Although there are dozens of varieties of Birch trees, in this article we’ll cover five that you’re likely to see in Texas, and that you’ll easily be able to grow.

Keep reading to see which trees will be your best fit!

5 Birch Trees to Grow in Texas

1. River Birch (Betula nigra)

River Birch
Image by Plant Image Library via Flickr

If you want to grow a Birch tree in Texas, the River Birch is no doubt your best option.

River Birch is the only species of Birch tree that’s native to Texas and can be found growing in the Pineywoods and Post Oak Savannah.

Since they’re native to the southeastern U.S., these trees are most abundant in eastern TX.

River Birch trees, as the name suggests, grow in wet environments. They need lots of water to drink and thrive in damp and acidic soil.

River Birch trees are also well-adapted to the intense Texas weather- they’re highly heat and flood tolerant.

Although River Birch is known to be very disease and pest resistant, they don’t have a long life and only live to about 30 years.

These trees have a cinnamon-brown bark that peels off in the same way cinnamon does! Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the same spicy quality.

  • Other Common Names: Black Birch, Red Birch, Water Birch
  • Growing Zones: 4-9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 ft tall by 20-30 ft wide
  • Season: Flowers in Spring

Available at: Nature Hills

2. Heritage Birch (Betula nigra ‘Cully’)

Heritage Birch
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees, combined by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

If you’re looking for some more diversity, the Heritage Birch is another variety that will grow well in Texas.

Heritage Birch is a cultivar of River Birch, so it has many of the same qualities that make River Birch suitable for Texas.

However, Heritage Birch trees don’t need as much water as River Birches do. So, there’s a wider range of where Heritage Birch trees can grow.

They’re also very strong trees, being deer and disease resistant, having a high wind tolerance, and growing very fast.

Plus, Heritage Birch trees are more adaptable to different soil types and don’t need such high acidity.

In contrast to River Birch trees, Heritage Birch trees have a layer of white bark that’s revealed as the outer layer of bark peels and flakes off.

These trees tend to have an open and spreading canopy, so they don’t provide complete shade but give spots of sunlight.

  • Other Common Names: Cully Black Birch, Cully Birch, Heritage River birch
  • Growing Zones: 4-9
  • Average Size at Maturity: 40-50 ft tall by 25-40 ft wide
  • Season: Flowers in Spring

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

3. Little King Birch (Betula nigra ‘Little King’)

Little King Birch
Image by David Stang via Wikimedia Commons (CC 4.0)

The Little King Birch is another cultivar of River Birch, except as a dwarf. Therefore the name “Little King,” since this variety is just as strong as other Birch trees- it’s just little!

A dwarf Birch tree would be ideal if you have a smaller yard or want to fill a tight space.

Plus, a smaller tree means the maintenance will be easier and more manageable. The Little King Birch is also better adapted to partial shade, so it can grow well as an understory tree.

As with the other Birch tree species, Little King Birch trees are highly pest and disease resistant.

Regardless, they have a short life span as Birch trees are not long-living trees. The Little King Birch also thrives in moist soil and needs lots of water.

Because of its height, Little King Birch trees often just have one trunk, as opposed to other Birches with several trunks.

  • Other Common Names: Dwarf Birch, Fox Valley Dwarf Birch
  • Growing Zones: 4-10
  • Average Size at Maturity: 8-10 ft tall by 5-10 ft wide
  • Season: Flowers in Spring

Available at: Nature Hills

4. Gray Birch (Betula populifolia)

Gray Birch
Image by Nicholas T via Flickr

Gray Birch trees are unique amongst other Birch trees in that their bark doesn’t peel, but is completely smooth.

Their bark is, as you might imagine, grayish-white and becomes more dark gray over time.

Gray Birch trees usually have multiple trunks even when they’re completely mature, while most other Birch trees grow to have one trunk.

Gray Birches are wider and bushy when young but as they mature, they become tall and columnar.

Although, Gray Birch trees tend to be shorter than other species that grow to 70 ft or more.

These trees are best suited for northern TX since they’re more cold hardy and less heat tolerant.

They also have strong, flexible branches that can withstand heavy loads of snow. In the spring and summer, these trees are known to attract lots of butterflies!

Gray Birch trees grow very fast, so they’re an excellent choice for providing quick shade.

  • Other Common Names: White Birch, Paper Birch, Aspen-leaved Birch
  • Growing Zones: 4-7
  • Average Size at Maturity: 35-50 ft tall by 10-30 ft wide
  • Season: Flowers in Spring

Available at: Nature Hills

5. Chinese Red Birch (Betula albosinensis ‘Red Panda’)

Chinese Red Panda Tree
Image by David Maxwaterman via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Well, this tree definitely isn’t common in Texas- and isn’t even native to the U.S.- after all it is called the Chinese Red Birch.

But look at how stunning this tree is! If you want to plant something exciting and different, this Birch has got to be on your mind.

Chinese Red Birch trees have a bold, brownish-red bark that contrasts with its white lenticels (the little bumpy lines).

The bark peels off in thin layers, exposing the next layer of bright red bark.

In the summer, its dark green leaves pop against the vibrant bark. Then in the fall, the leaves turn golden yellow and make this tree even more incredible.

Once the leaves drop, you can admire the Chinese Red Birch’s silhouette and year-long red bark.

Although native to China, it can grow well in eastern and central TX with the right conditions- moist soil and humid environment.

  • Other Common Names: Red Panda Birch, Red Birch, Chinese Red Panda
  • Growing Zones: 5-8
  • Average Size at Maturity: 30-50 ft tall by 30-35 ft wide
  • Season: Flowers in Spring

Comparing Texas Birch Trees

VarietyDescriptionGrowing ZonesAverage Size at Maturity
River BirchHighly heat and flood tolerant. Cinnamon-brown bark that peels off.4-940-60 ft tall, 20-30 ft wide
Heritage BirchCultivar of River Birch. Doesn’t require as much water. White bark peels and flakes off.4-940-50 ft tall, 25-40 ft wide
Little King BirchDwarf cultivar of River Birch. Suitable for smaller spaces, better adapted to partial shade.4-108-10 ft tall, 5-10 ft wide
Gray BirchUnique with smooth, non-peeling, grayish-white bark. Best for northern TX. Fast-growing, ideal for quick shade.4-735-50 ft tall, 10-30 ft wide
Chinese Red BirchBest for eastern and central TX. Bright red bark, golden yellow leaves in fall.5-830-50 ft tall, 30-35 ft wide

The Best of Birches

There you have it! While there are many species of Birch trees, this list is of the top choices for Texas.

There aren’t many native species because Birch trees prefer to grow in cooler and more mild climates but there are, nonetheless, options for us!

Unfortunately, there aren’t many Birch tree species that will grow well in southern TX.

The intense heat and dry climate is very harsh for Birch trees, but you’ll have better luck if you live in southeastern Texas.

Birch trees are very unique trees, with their colored and peeling bark. These trees add a special look to your yard plus give lots of shade.

Picking which beautiful Birch is just a matter of which color will go best in your space, then, get planting!

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Peyton Warmack-Chipman

Environmental Politics & Permaculture Enthusiast

Peyton considers trees not just as plants that provide shade or yummy fruits, but as necessary for a healthy life and community. Peyton has done most of her research on environmental politics, but recently has shifted her focus towards actual agricultural practices, learning about ideas like agroforestry, food forests, and permaculture gardening. She's most often in the kitchen whipping something up, but otherwise can be found on long bike rides or doing research.

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