Yellow poplar trees (Lirodendron tulipifera), also known as tulip poplar or tulip trees, are a fast-growing tree reaching heights of over 100 feet at maturity and living for hundreds of years. This cone-shaped, deciduous tree grows throughout the eastern portion of the United States from New England to Central Florida. Tulip-like, yellow-green flowers with orange marks bloom in spring and the tree has striking golden foliage during fall. Gardeners require a large space when growing yellow poplar trees, as they get quite large, but will make a striking addition to the landscape.
Plant a yellow poplar tree in springtime to give the tree time to establish itself in the new planting site before winter.
Grow yellow poplar in an area of your landscape that receives full to partial sun during the day, drains well and is large enough to house the tree at maturity. Trees can reach 40 feet in width, so do not plant them in an area where they will interfere with buildings, fences or power lines.
Remove any weeds, grasses or other vegetation growing in the planting site that will compete with the trees growth. Keep the area weed-free at all times. Pull the weeds out by hand or spray them with a non-selective herbicide. Wait one to two weeks before planting the tree when using herbicides. Allow the product to wash from the area.
Amend the planting site with compost or manure. Work the organic substance into the soil to a depth of approximately 10 inches. Yellow poplar trees are adapted to many soil conditions but will benefit from the addition of organic materials to the existing soil.
Soak the tree to increase survival rate before planting. Remove the tree from its container and place the root ball into a plastic container such as a five-gallon bucket. Fill the container with water and allow the tree's roots to soak for approximately one hour.
Dig a hole two times wider than the yellow poplar's root ball. Remove the tree from the container and gently spread out the roots if they are growing in a circular direction.
Place the tree in the planting hole, spreading out the roots. Fill the hole halfway with soil and tap down with your foot, firming up the soil and releasing any air pockets. Water the hole. Fill the remainder of the hole up with soil and tap down again.
Water newly planted yellow poplar trees daily for the first two weeks. Gradually taper off to once per week. Yellow poplar trees will have the best growth if watered on a regular schedule.
Fertilizer yellow poplar trees two times per month in spring and once per month in summer. Stop fertilizing in early fall before the tree goes into dormancy. Use a 10-10-10 fertilizer.
Prune only to remove any dead or damaged wood, as yellow poplars have a naturally forming cone shape.
Use an insecticide designed for use on yellow poplars if insects such as aphids become a problem.