The Tulip Tree (Liriodendron Tulipifera) Care Guide

The Tulip Tree, otherwise known as the Liriodendron Tulipifera or Canary Whitewood, Canoewood, Lyre Tree, North American Whitewood, Saddle Tree, Tulip Poplar, Western Poplar, Whitewood, Yellow Poplar, is a somewhat well known tree plant native to the Southeast, Northeast, and the Southwest of the United States.

Best known for its low maintenance and fast growth, this tree will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its blue-green colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.

This is why all the topics you need to know in order to achieve this will be covered in this Tulip Tree Care Guide. Ready? Let’s go!

The basic care guidelines you need to remember for your Tulip Tree are the following:

  • Water: The Tulip Tree needs evenly spread moist soil – try to avoid letting the soil dry out.
  • Light: Keep your Liriodendron Tulipifera in an environment where it can receive full sun on a daily basis. 
  • Soil: Make sure to keep the Tulip Tree in soil with moist but well-draining to well draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of sand, loam, and clay.

And as with many other plants, these are the only three care factors you need to remember to make sure your Tulip Tree is, for the most part, healthy and well to survive.

Liriodendron Tulipifera plants

Scientific / Botanical Aspects

In botanical terms, the Tulip Tree belongs to the Magnoliaceae family, the genus Liriodendron and the species Tulipifera, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Liriodendron Tulipifera (lir-i-o-DEN-dron too-li-PIF-er-a).

As with other Liriodendron’s, the Tulip Tree is a deciduous plant, which means it will shed its leaves annually once autumn comes.

Growing Region

The Tulip Tree is a plant native to the Eastern North America. This is why the Liriodendron Tulipifera is used to growing in specific regions such as the states in Southeast, Northeast, and the Southwest of the United States.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend to always keep in mind your plants’ native region and environment, since these are the conditions that your Tulip Tree is most accustomed to, thus where it can most favorably.

With this in mind, the Liriodendron Tulipifera will be most used to the heat zones in the 2 – 9 region, as the plant hardiness level falls between 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a and the ideal climate zone is between 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24.

Growth and Size


In terms of size and growth, the Tulip Tree is a relatively fast grower, which makes things tricky for any plant enthusiast.


But, what size of Tulip Tree are we talking about? What can you expect in terms of height, spread and spacing? Let’s dig in…

The Liriodendron Tulipifera can grow up to 60′ – 80′ (18m – 24m) in 60′ – 80′ (18m – 24m) and 30′ – 40′ (9m – 12m) in 30′ – 40′ (9m – 12m). 

Also, expect it to grow in a wonderful pyramidal shape, which is something worthwhile to remember when making your garden landscape plans.


In terms of watering, the Tulip Tree is a fairly complicated plant to take care of.

This is mostly because it has a not so straightforward watering schedule and somewhat irregular watering needs.

Specifically, most experts agree that the Liriodendron Tulipifera needs evenly spread moist soil – try to avoid letting the soil dry out.

Which is why it is considered a plant with relatively average needs in terms of water. 

Liriodendron Tulipifera care


As a rule of thumb, you should remember to keep your Tulip Tree in soil with moist but well-draining to well draining characteristics, as these will guarantee the right conditions for your plant to grow and thrive. 

When you consider this, this is why you should aim to choose soil that has good drainage, moist, and occasionally dry properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times. 

In our experience, the famous ‘thumb’ or ‘finger’ test is what works best for the Tulip Tree since with it, you will be able to give it the right amount of water, every time – regardless of the environment or placement where you do decide to keep it.

Soil Mix

As mentioned earlier, the Tulip Tree prefers to have soil with good drainage, moist, and occasionally dry properties at all times, reason why you need to make the soil mix out of sand, loam, and clay.

This is why most experts agree that the Tulip Tree requires soil with loam (silt), which will give you the right conditions it needs.

In addition to this, expert gardeners recommend having preferably neutral to acid soil.

Light and Exposure

In terms of light & exposure, the Tulip Tree requires full sun in order for it to thrive under the right conditions. 

Most experts agree that this tree will do well as long as you keep it in full sun, and it will be able to grow properly.

Specifically, we recommend that you place your Liriodendron Tulipifera in little to partial shade (only 2-6 hours of direct sunlight a day), to full and direct sun (more 6 hours of direct sunlight per day).


Being a deciduous plant, the Tulip Tree will shed its leaves annually once autumn comes.

But, you can expect it to have its ‘prime-time’ during the spring (mid, late), the summer (early, mid, late), and during the fall.


You can expect your Tulip Tree to flower around the spring and in the summer months from April to June (spring), and from July to September (summer).

In particular, this tree is well known for its showy flowers around the plant enthusiast community.

The Tulip Tree produces some beautiful yellow, or green, gold/yellow and orange flowers around this time of year.


The leaves from the Tulip Tree have a beautiful blue-green color during most of the year.

In particular, they have a compound (pinnately, bipinnately, palmately) and simple arrangement with a alternate organization in its leaves.

You can expect the leaves from your Liriodendron Tulipifera to be around (> 6 inches) in size.

Liriodendron Tulipifera up close

Attracts, Tolerance and Resistance

The Tulip Tree is well known for its tolerance to wet soil, clay soil and animals like rabbit and deer, so don’t worry if any of these come along, your Liriodendron Tulipifera will be fine.


How should you then organize your garden to include your new Tulip Tree? Here are some recommendations by expert gardeners.

Other owners consider that they complement well most gardens of prairie and meadow styles. 

In particular, the Tulip Tree’s best use for landscaping within your garden is as firescaping/fire wise,

Companion Plants

Tulip Tree’s do well with some other plants beside it. One good companion plant is the Sequoia sempervirens, which will pair up nicely with your leafy friend.

Others consider that a nice Cedrus deodora will work well too, so choose whichever you find works best for you!


Even though we covered a lot of care information for your Tulip Tree, remember the basics: sunlight, soil and water, as these should be enough to grow a healthy plant at home.

Sebastian Moncada

I’m also a plant enthusiast and researcher. I’ve been privileged to have lived my whole life around the wilderness of Colombia and I’m happy to share everything I learn along the way. “Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience” – Emerson.

Recent Posts