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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


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!


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




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