Tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera - all about care and cutting

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Tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera - all about care and cutting: liriodendron

With a furious triad of flowers, ornamental leaves and autumn colors, the tulip tree in the garden deserves a box seat. The beautiful tulip-shaped flowers can not deny the close relationship to the magnolia. Apart from that, the ornamental tree stages a majestic growth and makes specific demands. Familiarize yourself here with all the details of a professional cultivation. In this guide you will learn everything about care and cutting of a Liriodendron tulipifera.


Site selection is a key feature in successful cultivation. A look at the home of the tulip tree shows which criteria are important. The main distribution area extends over the east and southeast of North America with the mountain ranges of the Appalachians. In the north, its habitat reaches Rhode Island. To the south is the boundary of his home region on the northern border of Florida.
Therefore, a Liriodendron tulipifera is used to similar climatic conditions, as they prevail in Central Europe. However, the summers are noticeably hotter and rainier. In winter, the climate is milder. Moreover, the tulip tree thrives as a shallow root, which makes it vulnerable to wind thunderstorms. Choose a location with these properties:
  • Sunny to partially shaded location with at least 4 hours of sunshine in summer
  • Warm and wind protected
  • Nutrient-rich, fresh to moist soil
  • Gladly sandy-loamy and well-drained
  • Neutral to slightly acidic pH is beneficial
  • In the large pot a structurally stable, peat-free potting soil
On compacted soil, a tulip tree reacts with meager growth. Please avoid the proximity to paths, seats and paved areas. Although its imposing proportions call for a solitary placement, the site should still be embedded in the protection of hedges, shrubs or trees.
Tip: Do not confuse a North American tulip tree with the South African tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata) because they are botanically unrelated and native to different parts of the world. While the Liriodendron tulipifera is hardy in old age down to - 20 degrees Celsius, the African namesake shiver already at temperatures below 15 degrees Celsius.

Pour in the summer

Tulip tree - Liriodendron tulipifera

As the little digression to the conditions of its North American habitats shows, the tulip tree is supplied in the summer by extensive rains. For this reason, evolution saw no reason to provide the ornamental tree with a deep root system. In the summer heat and drought in the Central European climate, the plant is therefore threatened by drought stress. How to properly water the tulip tree in summer:
  • Never let the soil dry out
  • If the surface feels dry, there is a need for casting
  • Water in the absence of rain in summer
  • Run the water hose for 60 minutes two to three times a week
In the bucket, the root ball dries faster due to the exposed layer than in the bed. Check here daily by finger test the condition of the plant earth. Press the thumb one to two centimeters deep into the substrate. Do not feel any moisture here, pour it until the coaster fills up. In midsummer this may be necessary in the morning and again in the evening. It is important to note that you do not overflow the tulip tree with water because damp leaves increase the susceptibility to fungal infections.

Fertilizing in summer

With a growth rate of up to 70 cm annual growth, a tulip tree consumes plenty of energy for this reason alone. To develop a dense floral and foliage dress, grab the tree with a regular nutrient supply under the floral arms. How to fertilize a Liriodendron tulipifera with expertise:
  • In the bed: Every 4 weeks from April to August, add ripe foliage compost with horn meal
  • Add 3 to 5 liters of compost per square meter with 100 grams of horn flour and then add the topping
  • Alternatively, in April, June and August each benefit a mineral-organic slow-release fertilizer
  • In the bucket: From April to August, add a liquid fertilizer to the irrigation water every week
With a potassium-enriched fertilizer you strengthen the winter hardiness in late summer. In August, switch to nutrient intake for potassium-rich comfrey and give a potassium fertilizer such as Patentkali. By the beginning of September at the latest, you must stop the application of fertilizer so that the branches can mature before winter. Fresh, unpolluted autumn shoots reduce winter hardiness and make the tulip tree prone to frost damage.
Tip: Choose the location for a tulip tree wisely.The delicate magnolia plant is one of the woody plants that are not gladly replanted at a young age. Therefore, initial cultivation in the bucket with later transplantation is also not advisable.

Care in winter

Tulip tree - Liriodendron tulipifera

A tulip tree throws its leaves in late autumn, which significantly increases the conditions for undamaged wintering. Nevertheless, the ornamental wood must develop its robust frost tolerance of up to - 20 degrees Celsius only over the years. Care in winter is therefore primarily aimed at protecting a Liriodendron tulipifera from severe frost and winter drought stress.
  • In the first 5 years: tree disc covered with leaves and needle rice, crowns covered with fleece
  • In subsequent years: trunks wrapped with jute bands or fleece to protect against winter sun
  • Alternatively, lean wooden boards against the trunk or surround the bark with reed mats
  • Tulip tree at Kahlfrost pour on mild days
  • Do not fertilize from September to March
Place bucket on an insulating wooden block. If the heavy container is on a plant roller, cushion the cavity above the floor with leaves or straw. Wrap the container with a winter coat made of fleece or new wool and an additional coconut mat, which projects beyond the edge of the tub by 10 cm. Cover the substrate with a thick layer of leaves, straw or wood wool. As soon as the temperatures in the spring exceed the freezing point in the long term, remove the winter protection in the bed and tub equally. Only the sensitive stem bark should be protected from the strong sun until April to avoid cracks.

To cut

A tulip tree develops its picturesque silhouette with a columnar to conical, later spreading crown without horticultural interventions with scissors and saw. Only in exceptional cases is a pruning on the care program. If the tree gets too big, its crown shabbily or becomes too powerful, you can fix the shortcoming. The best time for a form and maintenance cut is during the foliage time between November / December and March / April. A few corrections can be made in the summer, immediately after the end of the flowering period. How to cut the tulip tree correctly:
  • Cut down frozen branches into healthy wood
  • Excite dead branches on Astring
  • Shorten too long shoots to the desired length
  • Remove branches directed into the inside of the crown or cut back on an outwardly directed eye
To remove a single, thick branch from the crown, it is advisable to have a covered, dry day in summer. This has the advantage that the incision wound heals faster in the middle of the growing season. The professional editing requires a step by step approach. First cut the branch from below at a distance of 20 cm from the trunk. Then set the saw slightly offset from above and saw until the branch breaks off. Only then cut off the stub on Astring. As Astring the thickening between branch and trunk is called. This bead must not be injured. Nevertheless, no remainder in the form of a clothes hook may be left, because here pathogenic pathogens have easy play.

Cleaning up withered flowers or not?

Tulip tree - Liriodendron tulipifera

The large, up to 10 cm large flower cups transform into autumn in impressive fruits with primal shape. These remind remotely of conifer pegs. This is hardly surprising, because as a magnolia plant, the tulip tree is a member of the Bedecktsamer family. So as not to rob one of the autumnal fruit decorations, let the withered flowers simply stand. Apart from that, it might be a complex undertaking to grow flowers withered from a meter-high crown to prevent self-sowing.
Tip: Is your garden not spacious enough for a tulip tree up to 35 meters high and 20 meters wide? Then it is possible to cultivate the cultivated form Liriodendron tulipifera 'Fastigiatum'. The columnar tulip tree limits its height to 15 to 18 meters and goes up to a maximum of 6 meters in width.

Frequent care mistakes

If a tulip tree sheds its leaves, if the leaves turn yellow in the middle of the summer, or if the flower stays out, the dilemma usually results from neglect of care. The most common causes with problem solving tips are summarized below:
  • Drought causes leaf shedding: Water regularly and abundantly at any time of year without causing waterlogging
  • Hard water leaves the leaves yellow: primarily pour rainwater or soft tap water
  • Nutrient deficiency causes sparse flower habit: fertilize organically from spring to autumn with acid leaf compost
  • Potassium deficiency affects winter hardiness: In August fertilize with patent potassium or comfrey
  • Thawing salts damage the roots: Do not spread any road salt in the immediate vicinity of the tulip tree
In the majority of cases too intensive tillage is responsible for problems with the tulip tree. The shallow root system is very sensitive to disturbances and injuries caused by the garden rake or the spade.Therefore, only use organic fertilizer on the surface and pluck weeds out with your hands.

Diseases and pests

Of diseases, a tulip tree is usually spared. The same applies to infestation by pests. Since the ornamental tree came from distant regions in our gardens and parks, so far no insects have specialized on its leaves, flowers and shoots. The only exception are ubiquitous aphids that like to liven up the fresh bud. Sticky leaves are a common symptom of lice infestation because they secrete honeydew as a waste product. If you can reach the crown well, fight the pests with a solution of 1 liter of water and 20-40 grams of liquid soap.
Otherwise, titmice and ladybugs keep the pests under control. Prevent a first colonization effectively by providing the stem with glue rings. With the sticky barrier, keep ants from carrying aphids into the crown. Clever ants use this strategy to get to the coveted honeydew.

Video Board: The American Tulip Tree.

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