How fast will a Tulip tree Liriodendron Tulipifera grow?

Brevard, United States

I've read they grow fast but how fast? I have a large area on the edge of a forest where I would like to create a high canopy to grow rhododendrons and ferns under. How much growth can I expect in the first couple of years?

I live in Western North Carolina (hardiness zone 6b)

Thanks for any help!

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

I thought I had sent a reply to this but dont ask me where it has gone, some poor sole will be absolutely baffled when the read my answer to a completely different question LOL.

My tulip tree is about 30 feet tall now, it's about 20 years old and was a small tree when planted.
The first 5 years the tree was quite slow and it was settling into it's new environment, there after it just took off, it was about 15 years ???? before it began to flower and I was about to give up but was informed this was natural, to allow 12-15 years for flowering to begin.

At an early stage I had to have DH remove a couple of bottom limb's / branches as like you, I wanted a canopy effect for my own Rhodie's, bulbs and ground cover.

When planting, the soil should be well draining soil with added humus as the tree needs air water and goodness in the growing soil for many years to come.I also add handful's of blood / fish / bonemeal as this is a nice slow release feed and natural too. there after each year give a winter layer of leafmould etc.
I added a tree support too as we live in a windy area, if you need to do that, every year till the tree is self supporting, make sure you loosen the ties or you will damage the bark and allow diseases to enter the broken or throttled truck area with damage.

The leaves turn a lovely bright Yellow before falling free and when my grand-kids were small, the believed the leaves were the riding saddles belonging to the garden fairies, well out of the mouth of babes eh !!!! however IF you look at the shape of the leaves, they do look a bit like a saddle LOL.

The tree needs a little sun not direct scorching hot sun, but dappled sun is fine, so make sure you plant out from the wood area and allow room for the back of the tree to get light too especially when it's more mature.
Enjoy your lovely tree and may it give you many years of pleasure.
Best Regards, WeeNel.

Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

Mine grew at a similar rate.
I had the variegated form.
Highly overrated. The leaves would come out 2-tone, then the variegated part would flush green and I would have to look hard to notice. The flowers were more showy!

First few years it grew slowly, and I was able to keep up with the pruning to shape the early growth.
After a few years it started growing faster.
Then we had a drought and it died. I had it about 10-12 years and the trunk got about 6" diameter, and the tree was about 20' + tall, well branched. Cast a light shade, more filtered sun not really dense.

Older trees that I see around here are denser than mine was, and are almost always growing in or near a lawn. I am in an area that gets no summer water unless it is irrigated. Trees that do well usually tap into ground water, or survive on winter rains. When there are little to no winter rains, trees die.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

I find that any variegated leaf need more sun light than their relatives who have ALL green leaf, if not given enough sunlight, they soon revert back to the plain green state and IF you have to re-site the tree / shrub to a much sunnier area, you need to remove ALL the plain green shoots or these seam to take over and are the more dominant, and the Variegation wont return.

I've heard there is a variegated form of this tree Diana but, never seen one here in UK so far anyway,
Here these tree's are normally grown as specimen tree's and as you said, mostly grown in or by a lawn to show it off.
Hard to believe but here in UK, most types of tree's, are expensive to buy and like at your place, the older/ or more mature the tree, the higher the cost, so I guess that's possibly the reason here , we do have a lot of specimen tree's, especially in parkland's or large estate gardens, well that's my view, I could be completely wrong but after travelling lot's over the years it is a pattern that appears to repeat it's self.
Best Regards

Brevard, United States

Thanks for all the great information Weenel and Diana_K! That is very helpful. I was hoping it would be faster at the beginning but its good to know what to expect. Thanks again for your help.

Brevard, United States

WeeNel, I asked the question first in the beginner garden section and then realised it was probably better suited for the landscaping section and asked here. So you did indeed answer the question twice. Sorry for the confusion and thanks for the extra effort and information!

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

sdtn, no worries about any confusion, the older I get, confusion becomes the norm LOL, I just had to question myself as sometimes at home I go up stairs to fetch something then, ask myself, " what am I here for" well you then go back down those stairs and hey presto, it all becomes clear, well sort of ha, ha, I thought I was having another one of those little moments Jeeeeez.
Happy gardening and have fun.
Best Regards, WeeNel.

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