How to Plant a Tulip Poplar


The tulip poplar tree (Liriodendron tulipfera) features green and orange tinted blossoms that are shaped like tulip flowers, giving the tree its name. The flowers blossom in summer. Native to the United States, the tulip poplar has a narrow planting range of hardiness zone 5, though some cultivars can grow in zone 4. Plant tulip poplar trees in the spring when frost danger passes, preferably on an overcast day, since heat stresses out new trees.

Step 1

Choose a location for your tulip poplar tree that allows the tree full sun and room to mature. The tree averages 70 to 90 feet tall, but trees can grow up to 150, according to the University of Connecticut.

Step 2

Dig a hole that's just as deep as the tulip tree's root ball and twice as wide. Remove rocks, sticks, weeds or roots from the hole before planting the tree.

Step 3

Grasp the poplar tree's trunk and remove it from the container. Break apart the root ball by massaging it with your fingers. Unwind and untangle and tangled roots so all roots are separate. Planting a tree with tangled roots can choke off its resources and eventually kill it.

Step 4

Place the poplar in the prepared hole, then check to ensure it's vertically straight. The tree should sit at the same depth in the ground as it did in the container.

Step 5

Fill in the hole with soil, pressing the soil gently around the tree roots.

Step 6

Build a watering ring around the newly planted tree that's 4 inches tall and 4 inches thick.This creates a watering basin that erodes over a couple months. Import extra soil from elsewhere in the garden or use bagged topsoil if necessary.

Step 7

Water the newly planted tulip poplar by filling in the watering ring you created.

Step 8

Give the tree 1 qt. of water every day the first week after planting, then 1 to 2 qts. every other day the second week, then 2 to 3 qts. of water every three days in the third week. After that water once weekly if needed or allow your tulip poplar to receive rainwater.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Tulip poplar sapling
  • Topsoil
  • Water


  • University of Connecticut: Tulip Poplar
  • Texas A & M: Planting a Tree
Keywords: tree planting, tulip poplar, tulip poplar planting

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.