Hybrid poplar trees are so fast and easy to grow, you basically can poke a stick in the ground and enjoy the shade of a 10-foot tree within a year. Hybrid poplars grown in the U.S. are deciduous cottonwoods, aspens and balsam. They grow easily from cuttings or rooted saplings, and new trees will sprout from the stump after a tree is cut down. Poplars can grow to 70 feet tall with a pyramidal spread of about 50 feet and have large, deep-green leaves. Some trees can live up to 40 years, but most are short-lived and should be replaced when they show signs of weakening. Hybrid poplars tolerate many types of soil as long as it is moist, and they can be planted in wet areas.
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Imperial Carolina Poplar
With care, Imperial Carolina Poplar (Populus X canadensis Moench) can be used in the home landscape. Weeds like to grow in the shadow of this fast-growing poplar variety, and the widespread root system can wreak havoc on underground water and sewer systems. Plant the tree at least 100 feet from pipes. Imperial Carolina grows to about 80 feet and can be planted in most areas of the country. A male hybrid developed at The Rose Lake Plant Materials Center in Michigan, Imperial Carolina has an elegant columnar growth habit. Plant in full sun after the last spring frost, 10 to 23 feet apart.
Tower poplar (Populus x canescens 'Tower') can grow 30 feet tall in only 10 years. The tree is upright and attractive in the home landscape, offering quick shade and rapid maturity. Watch for and remove suckers to keep "volunteers" from sprouting around the tree's base. Be vigilant in removing grass and weeds or apply a thick carpet of mulch to discourage weeds. Plant Tower in a sunny spot in loamy or sandy soil.
Frysville Hybrid Poplars
Working in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service and tree geneticists, Frysville Farms produced the Frysville Hybrid Poplar for use in city and home landscapes, firewood and the wood pulp industry. The trees are especially useful planted around newly constructed homes, providing shade and a "mature" appearance within a year or two. The tree is easily propagated from rootless cuttings or nursery stock and grows 5 to 8 feet per year.
Use the poplar to line your driveway, or plant several trees in rows for a tall hedge on a property line or the edge of a yard. Columnar varieties make excellent specimen plants in the home landscape.
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