Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
5 ratings

Tuesday - November 10, 2009

From: Virginia Beach, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Trees
Title: Planting a tulip poplar in Virginia Beach VA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi. I would like to plant a Yellow Poplar, 'Tulip Tree' in my front yard. I will not be able to plant this tree until after November 15th. The tree will receive direct sun and will be exposed to heat from the pavement in the cul-de-sac we live in. Will I have problems this time of year? Should I wait until spring? Thank you for your help!

ANSWER:

Liriodendron tulipifera (tuliptree) is a beautiful landscape tree, and native to Virginia. From our Native Plant Database, here are growing conditions for the tree:

"Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Rich, moist soils.
Conditions Comments: Tulip tree is insect and disease free. It is intolerant of compacted soil and should not be placed in confined beds or planters near pavement. It grows very rapidly in deep, rich well-drained soils with uniform rainfall. Dry summer weather causes physiological problems. Tulip tree drops its foliage in response to drought and is somewhat weak-wooded." 

Fairfax County, at the southeastern extreme of Virginia, appears to be in a very small area of USDA Hardiness Zone 5b, which has average annual minimum temperatures of -15 to -10F. Possibly it's the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean that makes it that much colder than the other areas of the state.You could probably plant it safely after November 15, but we would recommend waiting until early Spring. Trees are better planted when they are in semi-dormancy, over the cooler months of the year, but you also don't want your new tree to be suddenly confronted with very cold temperatures. 

Caveat: If you have already purchased the tree, and it is sitting in a plastic nursery pot, plant it as quickly as you can. Check to make sure the roots are not pot-bound, dig a bigger hole than is needed and work some organic matter, such as compost, into the hole. Be sure it is getting deep watering by sticking a hose in it and letting the water barely dribble until water appears on the surface. Do this about twice a week. Mulch the root area to protect it from the coming cold weather. If you have not already purchased your tree, and want to leave it for Spring, wait until then to obtain your tree from a reputable nursery. Insist on freshly shipped stock, as you don't want to be dealing with last year's leftovers, which probably ARE potbound. Again, inspect the roots and clip some, if necessary, to enable the roots to go out into the surrounding soil, instead of continuing to coil round and round, strangling the tree. 


Liriodendron tulipifera

Liriodendron tulipifera

Liriodendron tulipifera

Liriodendron tulipifera

 

 

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Problem With Vegetable Garden Soil
June 09, 2013 - We live in Liberty Hill on 25 acres and we are working to restore native grasses and plants. We are ardent supporters of the Wildflower center. I say this because my question is not "typical" of wh...
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of lantanas in San Antonio
July 22, 2010 - Mr. Smarty Plants, We have lantanas in our front yard. This summer the leaves have turned white and they die to a brown color all the while the leaves are "crispy". At the beginning of the season...
view the full question and answer

Necessary sun exposure for Eves Necklace
November 12, 2008 - How little sun can the tree Eve's Necklace receive and still be happy and healthy? I have an intended spot that gets about 3, maybe 4 hours, some of that will be hot afternoon sun in the summer. Th...
view the full question and answer

Sunny and shady lawns from Austin
April 28, 2012 - My front yard has a large bed surrounded by a mix of St. Augustine and Bermuda grass. Last summers heat killed off about 90% of the St. Augustine, which we would like to replace anyway to conserve re...
view the full question and answer

Older leaves yellowing on Savannah holly in Dallas
May 01, 2009 - I planted a Savannah Holly in Dallas, TX in the Fall of 2008. It has new growth and some white buds all over it, but some of the older leaves are turning yellow and dropping off. Is this normal?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.