Propagation Of Tulip Trees – How To Propagate A Tulip Tree

Green-Orange Tulip Tree
(Image credit: Iva Vagnerova)

The tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) is an ornamental shade tree with a straight, tall trunk and tulip-shaped leaves. In backyards, it grows up to 80 feet (24 m.) tall and 40 feet (12 m.) wide. If you have one tulip tree on your property, you can propagate more. Propagation of tulip trees is either done with tulip tree cuttings or by growing tulip trees from seeds. Read on for tips on tulip tree propagation.

Propagation of Tulip Trees from Seeds

Tulip trees grow flowers in the spring that produce fruit in the fall. The fruit is a grouping of samaras–winged seeds–in a cone-like structure. These winged seeds produce tulip trees in the wild. If you harvest the fruit in the fall, you can plant them and grow them into trees. This is one type of tulip tree propagation. Pick the fruit after the samaras turn a beige color. If you wait too long, the seeds will separate for natural dispersal, making harvest more difficult. If you want to start growing tulip trees from seeds, place the samaras in a dry area for a few days to help the seeds separate from the fruit. If you don’t want to plant them immediately, you can store the seeds in air-tight containers in the refrigerator to use for tulip tree propagation down the road. Also, when growing tulip trees from seeds, stratify the seeds for 60 to 90 days in a moist, cold place. After that, plant them in small containers.

How to Propagate a Tulip Tree from Cuttings

You can also grow tulip trees from tulip tree cuttings. You’ll want to take the tulip tree cuttings in the fall, selecting branches 18 inches (46 cm.) or longer. Cut the branch just outside of the swollen area where it attaches to the tree. Place the cutting in a bucket of water with rooting hormone added, per package directions. When propagating a tulip tree from cuttings, line a bucket with burlap, then fill it with potting soil. Plunge the cut end of the cutting 8 inches (20 cm.) deep in the soil. Cut the bottom out of a milk jug, then use it to cover the cutting. This holds in the humidity. Place the bucket in a protected area that gets sun. The cutting should get roots within a month and be ready for planting in spring.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.