Volunteer Tulip Poplar Saplings

An interesting problem has arisen lately. You see, over the last few months little saplings of our Tennessee state tree the tulip poplar have popped up all over the place. It must have been a great year for tulip poplars last season because I’ve found over 7 saplings that seem to be doing great all over the yard. They all need moved as some are way too close to the house and others are in places I really don’t want them. The problem is how do I use them?

One answer was given to me a couple months ago during a tour of a hosta garden in Franklin, TN. The owner of the garden (and president of the Middle Tennessee Hosta Society) told me that when she was trying to develop shade in her backyard she planted tulip poplars – and gave them plenty of extra water! Tulip poplars grow extremely fast and can quickly create a canopy for shade. I want to propagate more shade in my backyard, especially for the hot Tennessee summers, and the tulip poplars might do the trick. I wouldn’t need too many of them perhaps 2-3 might be all that is needed.

One or two of the tulip poplars will get planted near some wild cherries that are gradually dying out. I don’t want to lose the deciduous privacy screen the trees provide in the summer and the tulip poplar should help us out there. Now what do I do with the others? Any ideas?

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About Dave

Dave has written GrowingTheHomeGarden.com since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 4 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave has a side business growing and selling heirloom vegetables and herb plants through Blue Shed Gardens and works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.


  1. We have one that was a little sprig about 2' tall when we got married 5 years ago. Today it's approaching 30' and providing lots of shade during the heat of the day for a holding bed we started for Daylilies, Hostas and Iris. We've limbed it up as it's grown, trying to maximize it's shade, while trying to give it a nice 'shape'. If you have the room, might want to think about spacing them close enough together to stretch a hammock between the trunks in about 4 years, when they should be strong enough to support the weight of a gardener in need of a relaxing moment or three. If I remember, I'll try to post some pics to you tomorrow of the tree at our wedding in '05, and what it was last month. @SolakNC

  2. I love Tulip Poplars. My parents had one in their backyard, and I have very fond memories of summer days under its shade. We planted one on our property which, unfortunately, was taken down by the high winds of Hurricane Katrina. I really miss that tree.
    We, too, limbed ours up and were able to have partial shade plants underneath. I think you will like this tree's shade for your yard, too.

    Always Growing

  3. hmm. I wonder if this is what I have popping up all over. My husband keeps telling me they are tulip trees…….

  4. Lucky you for having some many wonderful trees to place at you will. They do make great shade trees.
    I don't have a clue as for the others.

  5. Short lived too, so you don't want "older" tulip poplars too close to the house.

    I have redbud trees (and pines, pines, pines) everywhere I look. I'd trade, but I don't want poplars either!

  6. These have always been one of my favorite trees!

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