In the forest, birch trees thrive on cool, moist soils. Their very shallow root system makes them sensitive to even short periods of drought or heating of the soil, thus they grow poorly on hot, dry soils.
- Light Needs: Full Sun and Partial Shade
- Watering Needs: Water the tree slowly and deeply.
River Birch, the southernmost birch of the United States, makes its best growth alongside bodies of water or in occasionally flooded bottomlands. It is native to the Atlantic coastal states, southern states, the lower Midwest, eastern Great Plains, and lower Mississippi River valley. In Ohio, it is native mostly in the south-central counties, and sparsely along Lake Erie. However, it is widely planted throughout Ohio and the eastern United States as an ornamental shade tree, prized for its flaky, orange, ornamental bark and rippling foliage in the breeze. Its rapid growth rate (even in drier soils) allows for quick shade, and it is often propagated and sold in multitrunked form. When found in the open, River Birch may reach 70 feet tall and 40 feet wide as a single trunked tree, and about 50 feet tall and 40 feet wide as a multitrunked tree. As a member of the Birch Family, it is related to the Alders, Hornbeams, Filberts, and Hophornbeams, in addition to other Birches.