S & J Nursery’s guide to growing
Tulip Poplar Trees
in the Northeast Florida Landscape
Liriodendron tulipifera / Tulip Poplar or Tulip Tree Origins:
– Native to North America, including Florida. ( magnolia family )
Preferred Exposure of the Tulip Poplar Tree / Liriodendron tulipifera:
– Tulip Poplar trees can be grown in a full sun location in our Jacksonville
and St. Augustine area landscapes.
Foliage | Bark of the Tulip Tree / Liriodendron tulipifera:
– Deciduous foliage of the Tulip Poplar tree turns a beautiful golden yellow
in the fall. Branches have a simple, alternate leaf pattern with pinnate leaf venation and 4 – 8 inch orbiculate
shaped leaves that are a bright green on the surface and paler beneath. Very pretty tree in the fall with so
little other fall foliage color here in the Northeast Florida landscape.
– Bark on the Tulip Poplar tree is grayish brown that is smooth on young trees
and new wood and heavily furrowed into rounded to flat ridges separated by grey crevices when older.
– Little pruning is needed as the Tulip Poplar tree tends to grow with a
single trunk and develops a strong central leader with little to no guidance from the grower. Strong branches
are resistant to breakage, UFIFAS publication ENH -522 states” The soft wood reportedly is subject to storm
damage but the trees held up remarkably well during hurricane ‘Hugo’ . It is possibly stronger than given credit
for.” It goes on to classify both trunk and branches as resistant to breakage.
Soil Preference / Salt tolerance of the Tulip Poplar tree ( Liriodendron tulipifera
– Tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions clay, sand, loam, acidic. Prefers
fertile, moist soils.
– Tulip Poplar trees can be planted into well draining soils or soils that are
– NO salt tolerance.
Size Variance of the Tulip Poplar / Liriodendron tulipifera tree:
– Tulip Poplar trees are usually found in the Northeast Florida landscapes at
sizes of 80-100 feet H | 30-50+ feet W and are long lived trees.
– Upright pyramidal developing a more upright oval canopy with age.
Growth Rate of the Tulip Poplar / Liriodendron tulipifera:
– Fast growing, expect Tulip Poplar trees to grow anywhere from 1-3 feet per
year in height depending on water availability.
Blooms on the Tulip Poplar or Tulip tree / Liriodendron tulipifera:
– Beautiful yellow/ green flowers with orange markings at the base are 2-3 ”
high and 1.5-2.5 inches wide. Blooms emerge in spring. The tree is given its common name because the flowers
very much resemble a tulip flower, especially when viewed from the ground up high in the branches. Flowers are
very lightly fragrant.
– Cone like fruits are not showy and are 2-3 inches long and 3/4 inch wide and
turn brown in late fall and early winter and tend to persist on the tree into the winter season. The fruits
attract birds to the landscape.
Water Requirements of the Tulip Poplar Liriodendron tulipifera Tree:
– Tulip poplar trees require adequate irrigation especially seen newly
planted. They are moderately drought tolerant once established into the landscape but may suffer leaf scorch
during hot dry months when rainfall levels drop below the norms for our Northeast Florida landscapes.
– Weekly watering during dry spells is advisable to keep these trees in their best
Butterfly or Bird Attracting:
– Fruits attract birds to the landscape.
Best Uses For Tulip Poplar / Liriodendron tulipifera:
– If you want fall color, consider the Tulip tree, Michael Dirr in his book
manual of woody landscape plants said this of these beautiful trees…
“…often superb during October and early November; I have
never given the specie enough credit for fall coloration; truly an aristocratic tree.” and when telling of a trip he took off of Highway 106 he said
” the yellow of the tuliptrees simply spell
– Wonderful large scale shade tree for larger yard or park areas.
– Quickly creates a shade canopy.
– Moderate drought tolerance, and good breakage resistance make these trees a
low maintenance option.
– Perfect for attracting wildlife to the landscape.
Care of the Tulip Tree / Liriodendron tulipifera:
– Plant your Tulip Tree 10-15 feet away from hardscapes
or foundations. These trees get large quickly.
– Water every day during the establishment period. See watering your newly planted trees for more information.
– Remember, these trees are extremely fast growing and use allot of water to
create all that foliage and growth, they may need weekly irrigating during drought conditions to avoid leaf
scorch during the hot summer months if rainfall levels are low.
– Provide a 1 ft diameter circle of mulched area where grass is kept from growing
for each inch of caliper (or diameter) of trunk measured 4 inches from the ground level.
– Fertilize each spring with a mixture of Milorganite and a slow release poly
coated plant food such as Osmocote or Stay Green general purpose plant food, sprinkling the fertilizer around
the mulch circle underneath the foliage of the tree