Betula nana, all about dwarf birch

Betula nana is the dwarf birch

Image – Wikimedia/Joanna Boissé

You might think that birches are all very tall trees, unsurprisingly the vast majority of those that are grown are. However, there is one that is much smaller. Its scientific name is Betula girland may be called dwarf birch.

Although it is very rare in cultivation, and even more outside its place of origin, it is a plant that can surprise us a lot. For it, we want to present it to you next.


Origin and characteristics of dwarf birch

The dwarf birch is a shrub

Image – Wikimedia/Niccolò Caranti

dwarf birch it is a deciduous shrub It is found in the Arctic region, although it also grows, a little more isolated, in the mountains that rise to more than 300 meters in the temperate zones. Thus, two subspecies are distinguished:

  • Betula nana subsp. lullaby: native to Greenland, northern Europe, northwestern Asia and Canada. The young branches are protected by a kind of hair, and the leaves are about 2 centimeters long.
  • Betula nana subsp. exiled: Grows in northeast Asia, Alaska and eastern Canada. The branches are glabrous but protected by resin and the leaves are at most 1.2 cm long.

It can reach a height of 1 meter, or maybe a little more if the conditions allow it, but never more than 2 meters. Its leaves are green, with jagged edges, and remain on the plant for a long time until the onset of autumn, that is, when they turn reddish until they fall off. The flowers are erect catkins about 5 centimeters long.

What is the care of dwarf birch?

Betula nana turns red in autumn

Image – Wikimedia/NPS Photo // Betula nana in autumn.

It is not a very complicated plant as long as the temperatures are cool all year round, but since problems can always arise, what better than to know how to take care of it to avoid them:


The Betula girl It’s a small bush must be outside, Every day of the year. Likewise, it is advisable to place it in the coolest and brightest area of ​​the terrace or garden so that it feels comfortable.

If you dare to grow it in a warm-temperate region, such as the Mediterranean for example, put it in the shade so that the sun does not burn its leaves.


It is important that it is acidic, with a pH between 4 and 6. It must also have good drainage and be fertile. If puddles form quickly and you see that it is struggling to absorb water, you will need to make a hole about 1 meter wide by 1 meter deep and fill it with an acid plant soil mix mixed with perlite in equal parts.

Irrigation and fertilization

It must be watered every 3 days in summer, and a little less the rest of the year. Every time you water, pour water into the soil until you see that it is soaked, this way you will ensure that the plant is well hydrated.

As for the subscriber, it is advisable to fertilize dwarf birch in spring and summer with a quality fertilizer, such as guano which you can buy here, following the manufacturer’s instructions.


It’s possible multiply by seed, which must be sown in pots or in the nursery in winter so that they germinate throughout the spring; or by semi-hardwood cuttings in spring.

size of the Betula girl

If you deem it necessary, end of winter You can cut the branches that you see that are growing a lot, or even eliminate those that are dry and/or giving it a rebellious appearance.


Withstands frost without problems up to -30ºC.

Is it possible to have a dwarf birch tree in a pot?

Dwarf birch is a flowering shrub

Image – Wikimedia/El Grafo

Sure. What happens is that it is still a fairly unknown species, which can also only grow in cold or temperate-cold climates. Recall that it is located in the Arctic region, where winter landscapes are covered with snow, and where summers are generally short and mild or cool.

For this reason, in an area where temperatures can exceed 25°C, it will not be able to live, nor even survive regardless of the care that will be given to it, because it is not prepared to withstand the heat. This is a shame for those of us who live in regions with high temperatures, but not for those who live, for example, in the mountains or/or in places where the climate suits them.

Besides, requires an acidic substrate, i.e. with a pH between 4 and 6 like this, because if it were planted in alkaline soil -with a pH of 7 or more- it would have problems growing well because it would lack iron. And since it is not a drought-resistant plant, it should also be watered with water with a pH between 4 and 6, or with rainwater, several times a week during the season. the hottest of the year, and a little less the rest of the time.

Have you heard of the Betula girl?

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