Sun exposure:
Dappled shade, full sun, partial shade
East facing, north facing, south facing, west facing
Position in border:


Acidic / Clay / Heavy / Moist / Well Drained / Light / Sandy

The silver or common birch, Betula pendula, is a fantastic tree, grown for its silver-white bark, spring catkins and pretty yellow autumn foliage. It's a medium-sized, deciduous tree and is a British native. It is a fantastic choice for wildlife, supporting over 300 species of insect and attracting birds such as greenfinches and siskins, which eat the seeds.

Silver birch has a graceful, upright habit which gradually becomes weeping with maturity and a light canopy, so it casts dappled shade. Silver birch is a speedy grower (around 50cm a year) and relatively short-lived (to around 60 years). The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

Silver birch is a favourite with garden designers. It is often planted in groups or as a multi-stemmed tree – the white bark looks especially good in winter and is perfect for showing off woodland planting underneath. Silver birch makes a good screen or windbreak and also works well as a specimen tree in a large garden.

If you're looking for a birch for a smaller garden, buy a small whip tree (you can plant three in the same hole for a multi-stemmed look) or small sapling, or choose Betula pendula 'Fastigiata', which has a more upright growth habit. Or consider the slightly smaller Himalayan birch, which also has more vivid white bark.

Betula pendula thrives in most soils and situations. It can tolerate air pollution and copes well in an urban environment. It can even cope with occasional waterlogging. For the best results grow in moist but well-drained soil in sun to partial shade.

More on growing Betula pendula:

Where to buy Betula pendula

This page contains affiliate links and we may receive a commission for purchases made. Please read our affiliates FAQ page to find out more.

Plant calendar


Betula and wildlife

Betula is known for attracting bees, beneficial insects, birds, butterflies/moths and other pollinators. It is a caterpillar food plant, has nectar/pollen rich flowers, is used for nesting materials, provides shelter and habitat, has seeds for birds and makes a good wildlife hedge.

Is known to attract Bees
Is known to attract Beneficial insects
Beneficial insects
Is known to attract Birds
Is known to attract Butterflies/​Moths
Is known to attract Other pollinators
Other pollinators

Is Betula poisonous?

Betula has no toxic effects reported.

No reported toxicity to:
Is not known to attract Birds
Is not known to attract Cats
Is not known to attract Dogs
Is not known to attract Horses
Is not known to attract Livestock
Is not known to attract People