Tulip trees (Liriodendron tulipiferea) are members of the magnolia family. Also called tulip poplar and yellow poplar, they receive their name because of their tulip-like flowers and leaves. Native to the eastern United States, these large, deciduous trees can reach a height of over 100 feet. Tulip trees are the tallest trees found growing in eastern forests. Gardeners looking for a fast-growing shade tree that is easy to grow should consider planting a tulip tree. Tulip trees grow best in USDA zones four through nine.
Select an area to grow your tulip tree that receives full-to-partial sun conditions throughout the day. Place the tree where it will receive at least four hours of sunlight each day. Tulip trees will not grow well in total shade conditions.
Consider the tree's size when selecting a growing site. Allow enough room for the tree to grow approximately 100 feet tall and 40 feet wide without disturbing structures or power lines.
Plant or transplant tulip poplar trees in early springtime. Grow the tree in soil that is rich in organic material that drains well but retains some moisture. Amend poor soils with compost, peat and manure by working it deep into the planting site before planting. Add a fresh application of manure in the fall and spring.
Remove any vegetation or weeds that will compete with a young tulip tree's growth. Keep the area around the base of the tree weed-free at all times, especially for young trees.
Soak the roots of bare, rooted trees in water for approximately one hour before planting in the ground. Moistening the root system will increase the tulip poplar's chance of survival.
Water newly planted trees regularly to keep the planting site moist. Water approximately every other day, depending on the weather in your area. Water established trees approximately two to three times per week.
Mulch an area of three feet in diameter around the trunk of the tree to retain moisture in the soil and cut down on weed growth. Use a several-inch layer of pine bark, cypress mulch or pine needles.
Fertilize the tulip tree in early spring, summer and autumn with an all-purpose, granular fertilizer used for magnolias. Apply an additional amount of lime, if your soil is alkaline. Water the fertilizer in well and do not allow it to touch the trunk.