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Friday - October 02, 2009

From: Cincinnati, OH
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Planting, Trees
Title: Transplant shock in tulip tree in Cincinnati
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I planted a tulip tree sapling (3 feet tall at the time of planting) in May of this year and it sprouted! Unfortunately, I believe the top portion (nearly 2 feet) did not make it (the sapling only sprouted new growth near the bottom and the top is gray and brittle). Should I cut the top part off? If so, when (spring or fall)? Also, how close do I cut near the new growth? Thanks!

ANSWER:

Liriodendron tulipifera (tuliptree) is a beautiful landscape tree which can grow to 150 ft. tall and is native to the Cincinnati area, so you made a good choice. It will be a while before it gets up to that 150 ft. and what you need to be doing now is training it to be a nice straight tree. Read this article by John Ball and Aaron Kiesz from the South Dakota Forestry Publication The Basics of Tree Pruning.  The part you should be interested in is the first part on"Training Young Trees." That segment of the article goes on to mention controlling root sprouts, again, to encourage the tree to grow up straight and strong. In your case, you are saving the root sprout because the main branch has died. We suppose the roots made the decision on which part they wanted to sustain, and the sprout won. However, from now on, you must watch for, and remove quickly, any suckers that come up. You should probably cut as near to the new growth as you can without damaging the bark on the new growth. It can certainly be done now, before the trees go semi-dormant for the Winter. 

 

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