Fast-growing shade trees are an important investment in property value for many American homeowners, who are looking to add the aesthetic and curbside appeal of a shade-producing tree without the 40 year wait. Poplar Trees are ideal for this purpose. Also known as Aspens or Cottonwoods, Poplar Trees, whose genus name is Populus, belong to the Salicaceae family, are fast-growing shade trees.
With almost 35 unique Poplar Tree species, a variety exists to suit the needs of most landscapers. Two of the most popular and common Poplars are the Hybrid Poplar and the Tulip Poplar. Both display fast-growth rates between 5 and 8 feet a year, growing easily throughout most regions of the United States. With heights ranging between 40 and 70 feet, these Poplar Tree species will provide restorative shade quickly and at a reasonable price. The investment will quickly make up for itself. Not only do shade-producing trees such as Poplar add value to property, they will also reduce overall heating costs by both increasing oxygen and providing shade to the property.
Buying a new tree is an investment, and it is important to research the best-suited tree for a particular location prior to purchasing. Many trees have specific needs related to soil composition, sun or shade location, and water access. Check out the quick-facts for Poplar Trees below before reading about the specifics for the genus in the following sections.
How to Buy Fast-Growing Poplar Trees
Trees of all kinds show the greatest mature heights and development with proper initial care as a young sapling. The Tree Center provides this well-loved, well-tended care during the beginning states of growth, thereby encouraging success later in the tree’s life. Once the best type of Poplar Tree for the soon-to-be shady location has been chosen, order a sapling from The Tree Center.
How to Plant Poplar Trees
Sun: Plant in full sun to partial shade
Water: Water immediately after planting and once per week for the first six months, unless it rains.
When to Plant: Poplars can also be planted in mid-fall six weeks before the first frost, or in early spring after the last frost has occurred.
Poplar Trees are relatively adaptable, and several species are disease, pest, and even drought resistant. Investigate the particular species best-suited to the planting location and homeowner’s wishes, then, order a sapling from The Tree Center.
Once the tree arrives, observe and measure the root ball, or collection of roots at the base of the tree. The root ball determines the size of the hole. The hole should be dug to be three times the width of the root ball. Width is essential. Depth is less important, and this is a mistake many first-time planters make. If the hole is too deep, oxygen and water will have more difficulty in reaching the tree’s root systems. The hole should actually be slightly less deep than the root ball’s height by about three inches.
Once the hole has been dug, find a partner to stand the tree vertically in the hole. While one person holds the tree level, the other should backfill the hole with soil and water, interchanging a shovel-full of dirt with a moderate water soak. This will encourage new growth of the tree and help the tree settle quickly.
If using mulch, add it at this point, watering the tree immediately afterwards. Stand back and enjoy the handiwork.
Soil is essential to a Poplar Tree’s success. Soil is the method by which most trees obtain the majority of the nutrients and water they need to survive. Soil is classified into three categories based on the size of its grains: clay, silt, and sand. Clay and silt soils are made up of tiny particles, with clay grains smaller and stickier. Silt is slightly larger. Sand has the largest particles, which do not stick together and instead fall apart, even with heavy moisture.
No one soil type works well for most plants; instead, trees like the Poplar prefer loam, a mixture of different sized particles. Poplar Trees can manage in clay, silt and sand, and most species are adaptable to poor soil conditions. The pH of the soil is also an important component, though Poplar Trees are again adaptable to either acidic or alkaline soils. Regardless of the soil type, Poplar Trees require wet soil.
Most Poplar Trees prefer wet areas. Adequate water accessibility is essential to a tree’s success. Poplar Trees thrive in soil that is wet to a depth of three feet. Careful to not over-water the Poplar Tree, as soggy or water-logged soil can actually harm the tree. In drier climates, consider installing an irrigation system, such as a sprinkler or drip system, which will disperse water at a slow, consistent rate. Regardless of the climate, water the tree during extended droughts, or if the Poplar Tree has not received more than an inch of rain in a week.
Mulch and Fertilizer
Mulch is beneficial to Poplar Trees, as their preference for wet soil is aided by mulch. Natural or wood-chip based mulches work best, as these will decompose over time. Mulch benefits the Poplar Tree in a variety of ways.
First, the topsoil surrounding the tree will often become poor over time, and the soil is especially vulnerable immediately after transplantation. Mulch helps to protect the soil surrounding the area. Second, mulch helps to even water and air distribution to the soil and, thereby, to the root systems. Finally, natural mulches decompose over time, adding nutrient-rich matter to the tree’s soil.
Fertilizer is helpful when planting Poplar Trees. Gentle, slow-release fertilizers (often marked as 10-10-10) work well, and should be added to a 10 foot by 10 foot area surrounding the tree twice a month between March and May and once a month between May and September. Do not fertilizer the Poplar Tree in late fall or winter, and do not let the mulch come in contact with the tree itself.
Information on Poplar Trees
Poplar Trees are large, flowering deciduous trees found in the Northern Hemisphere. The leaves of the tree are varied in size, with both small and large leaves occurring on a single tree. The large leaves occur on the main tree boughs, and these large photosynthetic devices provide abundant shade.
Poplar’s extensive root systems can be detrimental to nearby buildings, and should not be planted within 40 feet of septic systems or buildings. The Poplar Tree has historical uses, such as material for Greek and Etruscan shields. Today, Poplar Tree’s wood is used to create pulpwood in the production of paper.
Poplar Tree Varieties and Cultivars
There are between 25 and 35 different species of Poplar Tree, all of which grow in the Northern Hemisphere. The two most popular Poplar Trees in the United States are the Hybrid Poplar and the Tulip Poplar, both of which exemplify the fast-growing, shade-producing qualities for which the Poplar Tree is known.
These fast-growing large deciduous trees are popular among homeowners, for the tree will quickly add value to a property. Growing up to 8 feet a year, the Hybrid Poplar is an adaptable, easy to grow tree easily reaching between 40 and 50 feet tall. The Hybrid Poplar is popular among wildlife systems, with rodents, deer, beavers, and porcupines will eat the mature tree and deer will enjoy saplings.
Prepare for any possible tree loss through proper protection, either with netting, fencing, or commercial products such as “Deer Off”. Hybrid Poplars are a hybridized species of other Poplars, with hybridization occurring both naturally and through agricultural selection. Hybrid Poplars will provide fast shade when needed.
Tulip Poplars are valuable, popular trees. First, the tree’s color and fragrance are often admired. In the spring, the Tulip Poplar will offer honey-nectar smell, attracting several different avian species. Summer brings extensive shade measuring a width of 30 to 40 feet.
Autumn brings golden-yellow leaves stretching to an impressive 70 feet in height. Tulip Poplars are fast-growing, and the planter can expect between 3 and 5 feet of growth in a season, sometimes more. These benefits often cause new homeowners to plant this Poplar, as the initial investment is often quickly made profitable in property value.
Benefits of Poplar Trees
Poplar Trees are some of the most popular landscaping trees on the market. This is, in part, because they have such fast growth rates. Reaching between 5 and 8 feet of new growth in a season is infrequent among other large shade-producing trees. Shade is valuable, too. Not only does this often lead to increases in property value and decreases in air-conditioning or coolant costs, shade is appreciated on hot summer days. Finally, some species of Poplar, such as the Hybrid Poplar, are disease and pest resistant.
Poplar Tree Concerns
Poplar Trees are easy to grow and are adaptable to a wide variety of conditions. Be sure to water the tree and observe leaves for signs of over- or under-watering, often noted by droopiness in the leaves. Plant the tree in full sun and wait for favorable fast shade.