Lateral branches sticking out on the right horizontally. Loppers. please.
Okay. Better now.
Doctor, should this paper birch be pruned as well? Yes, we need to remove that lateral sticky-out branch on the right lower side. Japanese pruning saw please.
That's much better.
My pruning is a clear enhancement, but the real improvement here is that these birches (Betula papyrifera) actually have leaves in September. In every year before this, they dropped their leaves in August.
We planted three paper birches in 2005 and they have grown well, become shade providers, and have added height and mass. Lovely trees.
But every summer they defoliated in August. There was never any yellow fall foliage, which has been described as golden, twinkling and beautiful. Not these trees.
Here they were last September, in 2011, early in the month. They had looked this way since early August. And they looked this way every year in late summer.
Betula papyrifera likes cool summers and isn't well suited to hot conditions or drought. In my garden they were stressed during hot dry summers, and each year they got a leaf spot fungus and defoliated early. I could not bear to remove them, but they were really ugly in late summer and early fall.
So this year I had them treated with a fungicide in spring, the same spray that you would use to treat roses for black spot. It has made all the difference.
The tree guy had never heard of birches needing a black spot fungicide, but the results show that mine benefitted immensely.
But I don't like the idea of spraying large shade trees. I don't want to doctor these big paper birches every year. I have to say, though, that with the foliar spray this year they look wonderful, and I expect a show of bright yellow fall color in a month.
Doctor, doctor, what should I do?
Should I spray fungicide each year to keep these birches in leaf?