River Birch – Not Greening

Q: I planted a river birch early this spring and the top three feet have not greened up. Should I remove the leafless limbs or wait it out?

A: The top probably won’t ever green up. You can make a new central trunk by removing the dead top just above a small, limber limb which has leaves on it. Make a splint from a four foot long, 3/4 inch diameter wooden dowel. Use cloth to tie the lower half of the splint to the existing trunk and gently bend the flexible limb up as close to vertical as you can. Tie it loosely to the dowel. In a few years the limb will be a sturdy trunk and the dowel and cloth will decompose and fall from the tree.