Q: I would love to plant a white birch, also known as “clump birch”. They display a wonderful white bark. Will it grow well north of Athens?
A: Gray birch, Betula populifolia, is commonly known as clump birch but paper birch, Betula papyrifolia, and Asian white birch, Betula platyphylla are also given this common name.
Sad to say, none of them grow well anywhere other than the chilly Georgia mountains. Heat and summer drought are their biggest problems when you get further south towards Athens.
The only birch I recommend for Georgia is river birch, Betula nigra. ‘Heritage’ has excellent bark color. I must caution you that I see at nurseries river birch trees labeled ‘Heritage’ that do not exhibit the beautiful peeling bark a true ‘Heritage’ river birch should have. Buy your birch only from a reputable nursery that specializes in trees and ask pointed questions about their wholesale suppliers.