FEATURED TREES - Tulip Tree

Tulip trees (Liriodendron tulipifera) live up to their name with spectacular spring blooms that resemble the flowers. The tulip poplar tree is not a poplar tree and not related to tulip flowers but is actually a member of the Magnolia family. The plant isn’t suitable for every landscape, as it can exceed 120 feet (36.5 m.) in height, but it is hardy in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 to 9. Considerations on where to plant tulip trees should also take into account the rapid growth and brittle branches of this native tree. Read on for information on how to grow and care for tulip trees.

 

About Tulip Trees

Look upward in April to June in parts of the east and southeast parts of the United States. During these months in the spring, the tulip poplar tree will be in full bloom with yellowish green to orange cupped fragrant flowers, 2 to 3 inches (5-7.6 cm.) in diameter covering the plant. The plant is attractive to numerous pollinating insects and birds. The leaves are also tulip shaped and can get up to 8 inches (20 cm.) long.

Tulip poplar trees are deciduous and will lose their leaves in winter, but first you get a spectacular color display of brilliant golden foliage. An interesting fact about tulip trees is that it is the host plant for tiger and spicebush swallowtail butterflies.

 

Where to Plant Tulip Trees

Tulip trees prefer full sun locations with rich moist soil that drains well. The plant starts out in a pyramid shape but matures to an arching dome except where limited sun is available. In low light situations the branches can get skinny and weak.

The plant has a fleshy root system that doesn’t extend far out from the plant, so well worked soil is essential at planting. The tree tolerates drought poorly, so make sure it has access to water or give it supplemental irrigation in summer and early fall. The soil pH should be moderate to acidic.

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