How to Prune Hybrid Poplars


Hybrid poplar trees are developed from mixing two or more species in the populus trees genus that includes the aspen and cottonwood trees. Hybrid poplar is cultivated for ornamental and conservation uses and is harvested for a wide range of products including lumber, housewares and paper products. According to Washington State University, hybrid poplars grow faster than any other northern temperate zone tree. This rapid replenishment growth habit makes them a desirable tree. Hybrid poplars grown for timber should be pruned heavily when young to develop long, thick branches. Poplars grown ornamentally require little pruning save to control or correct damage.

Step 1

Thin 2-year-old hybrid poplar saplings with secateurs to just a single main stem emanating from the trunk to force a strong tree architecture.

Step 2

Prune your hybrid poplar trees destined for timber use to focus plant energies on developing a few strong and stout branches. Remove smaller, weaker branches and sucker growth once or twice a year while the trees are young.

Step 3

Conduct regular light maintenance pruning for landscaped poplars throughout the growing season. Remove any broken, dying, diseased or otherwise damaged branches or foliage when you see them. Cut back to a point of healthy wood or down to the parent branch just outside the swollen branch collar.

Things You'll Need

  • Secateurs
  • Pole saw
  • Long handled loppers
  • Ladder


  • Washington State Uiversity: Hybrid Poplar Research Program
  • Washington State University: Poplar Research Program Pruning
Keywords: hybrid poplar trees, prune poplar trees, cut back hybrid poplars

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.