Poplar: tips for planting and care outdoors

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Poplar: tips for planting and care outdoors
Poplar: tips for planting and care outdoors

Description of the poplar plant, how to plant and care for cultivation in a backyard, breeding rules, protection against diseases and pests, application and curious notes, types.

Poplar (Populus) belongs to the genus of deciduous flora that are part of the Willow family (Salicaceae). Such plants grow mainly in the northern hemisphere, where a temperate climate prevails, while the subtropical Chinese regions are recognized as the homeland of poplars. They are also found on the American continent to the southern regions, reaching Mexico and are not uncommon in eastern Africa. It is noteworthy that forests, where most of the trees are poplars, are called poplars.

Most of the species in natural conditions for growth give preference to the valleys of river arteries and well-moistened slopes, they can also withstand swampy soil, although they grow better on a rich and aerated substrate. Although poplar is considered a fast-growing crop, its growth rate will be steadily high for 40–60 years, after which it declines steadily. There are varieties that can live up to the age of 120-150 years, but since they mainly suffer from fungal diseases, the average life expectancy is 60-80 years. There are more than 95 species of poplars in the genus, which are usually divided into six sections.

Family name Willow
Growing period Perennial
Vegetation form Tree-like
Breeds Generatively (by seeds) or vegetatively (by cuttings or root suckers)
Open ground transplant terms Early spring or October
Landing rules At a distance of 30-60 m from any buildings and 3.5 m from each other
Priming Lightweight, loose, nourishing and aerated
Soil acidity values, pH 6, 5-7 (neutral)
Illumination level A place with good lighting
Humidity level Regular and abundant watering, especially in dry times
Special care rules Pruning recommended
Height options 40–45 cm, often reaching 60 m
Flowering period From the end of May
Type of inflorescences or flowers Cylindrical brushes that look like earrings
Color of flowers Male flowers of a red shade, female yellow flowers with a greenish pistil
Fruit type Seed capsule black or brown-black
The timing of fruit ripening In June
Decorative period Spring Summer
Application in landscape design As a tapeworm, in group or alley plantings
USDA zone 4–8

There are versions that the genus received its scientific name because of the word "populus", which means "people", and since the plant gives multiple branches from the base and poplar were planted nearby places where popular meetings were held. But until now, the origin of the Latin name remains completely unclear. Its Gallic roots or a connection with the Greek term for elm (ptelea) are suggested. But other versions are sent to the derivative of the Latin word "opulus", which means "maple", since there is a similarity in the outlines of the leaves of the white poplar and the Italian maple.

The Russian word "poplar" seems to be rooted in the Slavic "top", meaning "swamp" or "swamp", indicating the plant's preference for swampy areas.

All poplar species are large perennial trees. Their height reaches 40–45 m with a trunk diameter of more than 1 m. The poplar crown can take on pyramidal, ovoid, pyramidal-ovate or tent-like outlines.The bark covering the trunk is fractured and has a dark gray or brownish gray color. On the branches, it has a smoothness and a gray or olive-grayish color scheme.

The root system of the poplar is distinguished by its strength, most of it is located superficially. Root shoots tend to go far beyond the projection of the tree crown. The foliage on the branches grows in regular order, attached with petioles. The surface of the leaf plates is either pubescent or bare. The shape of the leaves varies from broadly ovate to lanceolate, but the outlines directly depend on the branch on which the foliage unfolds and on the location on it. The surface of the leaves is covered with reticulated veins.

Poplar is a dioecious plant, in rare cases, being monoecious. Flowering begins before the leaf plates unfold or simultaneously with this process. Fruiting occurs in poplar plantations when they are over the age of 10–12 years. From flowers, inflorescences are collected that resemble earrings, but in fact they are spike-shaped brushes with a cylindrical shape. They grow erect or drooping. In male poplar flowers, the color of the earrings is reddish, female ones are characterized by a yellow tone with greenish pistils.

Poplar inflorescences fall as they fade or seeds fall out of them. Each of the flowers is located in earrings in the axil of the bracts, which have a finger-like dissection. Above the flower there is a kind of disc, which in pistillate flowers takes the form of a glass or saucer, and in staminate flowers it looks like a plate. There are from 3 to 60 stamens in poplar flowers. They have a shortened thread and an anther with a pair of sockets. In rare cases, flowers are bisexual. Pollination occurs through the wind. Pollen from male flowers is transferred to female flowers.

The fruit of the poplar is a capsule, which, when ripe, opens into 1-2 pairs of valves. The capsule contains small seeds, with an oblong or ovoid-oblong shape. The color of the seeds is black or black-brown. The length of the seed varies from 1–3 mm; a bundle of a large number of hairs is formed at its base. Such hairs are thin and silky and form the so-called "poplar fluff". If we talk about the size of poplar seeds, then there are a thousand of them in 1 gram.

But, despite the large amount of seed material, its germination rate is rather low and if the seeds do not fall on favorable soil, they quickly disappear. Thanks to the down, poplar seeds have the ability to catch on to something (a twig, pebble, straw or other suitable hold). If this does not happen, the fluff carries the seeds further.


The isolation of fluff occurs only in female plants, and male specimens are completely harmless, therefore, when planting, they try to prevent the appearance of female trees. At the same time, plants have the ability to change their sex, and it happens that female earrings are formed on male trees. This happens in places where the ecological situation is unfavorable. For this reason, it will not be possible to solve the problem of the appearance of poplar fluff by culling female trees.

It is easy to determine the sex of a poplar during the flowering period. For this, the flower bud is removed, it is broken and examined under a magnifying glass. In male trees, on the cut at the bud, the anthers are somewhat similar to grains, which the females do not have. They are characterized by the presence of an ovary with a stigma rudiment.

These trees serve not only as natural air filters, but can become an adornment of any alley in the backyard, while not requiring much effort from the gardener when growing.

Planting and caring for a poplar when grown outdoors

Poplar in the ground

Usually we are used to seeing poplar trees along the roads, but even when planting in a garden or summer cottage, beautiful compositions can be formed and this does not require much effort.

  1. Place for planting poplar. You should not place poplar plantings next to a house, garden buildings or gazebos, you should not plant them next to paths, since the root system, which is distinguished by its power, will cause a lot of trouble over the years. The recommended distance should be at least 30-60 m from any structures or paths. In any case, it is recommended to choose an open and well-lit garden area for poplar plants.
  2. Poplar soil pick up the usual garden, characterized by coolness. Light, well aerated formulations that are nutritious and rich in micronutrients are preferred. Swampy soil is not suitable for many species, but there are hybrid forms that are not afraid of waterlogging. Species such as the large-leaved poplar Aurora prefers a fertile soil mixture, so that it contains river sand, peat chips and sod soil. Therefore, if the substrate on the site does not meet these conditions, then it is recommended to make additional regular feeding. When the soil on the site is heavy, then during planting it will be necessary to provide high-quality drainage using pieces of broken brick, gravel or expanded clay.
  3. Poplar planting. To do this, you need to dig a hole so that its volume reaches a cubic meter and no less. However, the exact parameters of the planting pit and the distance between them directly depend on the type of the selected plant, this information can be obtained from the nursery where the seedling was purchased. It is advisable to process the substrate inside the dug recess and on its walls. It is the presence of a loose substrate that will have a good effect on the growth of the seedling. Before planting, if necessary, a drainage layer is placed in the pit and a peg is installed to tie the plant up, after which a small layer of soil mixture is poured and about 30 liters of water is poured out. After all the moisture is absorbed, you can put a poplar seedling in the planting hole. All voids in the recess are filled with soil and carefully compacted to remove voids. The formation of an irrigation rim is carried out along the perimeter of the near-stem circle, so that the water during irrigation is directed to the roots of the plant. The seedling must be tied to a peg and abundantly watered. If a group planting of poplars is carried out, then it is recommended to leave at least 3.5 m between the seedlings. In order for the moisture to remain in the soil for a longer time, the near-trunk circle of the seedling should be mulched immediately after planting. To do this, a layer of peat chips, humus or sawdust is poured there. It will also keep weeds from growing quickly.
  4. Watering when growing poplar is a rather important aspect, since the plant is characterized by a great love in nature for well-moisturized places. After planting, during the first year, watering is carried out every 2-3 weeks, and special attention is paid to this in dry and hot seasons. After each watering, the near-trunk circle, so that moisture remains in it longer, it is recommended to loosen, as well as renew the mulch layer.
  5. Fertilizers when cultivating poplar, it is recommended to apply it with depleted soil on the site, as well as to maintain the growth of the tree. For this, dressings are used, which contain nitrogen, which contributes to the growth of deciduous mass. Additionally, you can use nitroammophoska, at the rate of 100 grams of the drug per 1 m3.
  6. Pruning when growing poplar, it is recommended to be carried out in the autumn-spring period, namely from October to April, when the plant has finished its vegetative activity. After planting, it is recommended to leave only one apical branch intact, which grows vertically upwards - this will allow the poplar to stretch in height.When pruning, the criterion is that the shape of the crown should be even and the shoots should not stick out of it. With the arrival of spring days, it is necessary to remove all branches broken and dried up during the winter, as well as branches in the lower part of the trunk. To rejuvenate the poplar, when it reaches the age of 30–40 years, you can cut the shoots up to 15–20% (about 2/3) of their height and even more. The plant perfectly tolerates such procedures, but immediately after pruning, all cuts, the diameter of which exceeds 2.5 cm, are recommended to be thoroughly treated with garden varnish or painted over with oil paint made on natural drying oil. If you want to perform crown molding, then such actions are possible in the second year after planting a poplar seedling. After pruning, top dressing is recommended. When growing a columnar poplar, pruning is not carried out.
  7. General advice on care. When growing poplar, it is important that the soil surface does not sod. This can even lead to the death of such trees. To eliminate this aspect, it is recommended to plant shrubs nearby. After the snow melts on the site, it is necessary to pierce the substrate near the root zone of the poplar. Such actions will help to avoid in the future the possibility of stagnation of accumulated moisture. The depth to which the punctures are made is 15 cm. It is recommended to perform the same operation on autumn days before cold weather. The root system of a young plant should be covered to protect it from frost with a layer of fallen dry foliage or cut grass. It is necessary to deal with the removal of root growth in a timely manner, so that after a while such poplar plantations do not flood everything around.
  8. The use of poplar in landscape design. Since the plant has a high growth rate, as well as a crown of decorative outlines and deciduous mass, it is widely used in landscape design. All its varieties are good, both as tapeworms and in group plantings, or with the help of poplars, spectacular alleys can be formed. But not only the shape of the crowns of poplar trees is interesting in parks and gardens, with the arrival of autumn days, the leaves acquire a yellow or golden color, decorating everything around. Naturally, it is better to choose male plants as landscaping, since poplar fluff does not form on them.

See also agricultural techniques for growing caragana in the garden.

Poplar breeding rules

Poplar grows

In order to plant poplar trees on your site, it is recommended to use a seed or vegetative method. If we talk about the latter, then it includes the rooting of cuttings or the deposition of root suckers.

Poplar propagation by seeds

The plant uses this method in natural conditions, but it is also suitable for cultivation in culture. However, it should be borne in mind that the method is quite laborious and therefore not very popular. It is only important to carry out sowing immediately after the seed has been collected, that is, approximately in June. In this case, the seeds must be fully ripe. At a certain area in the garden, a fence is made, and when poplar fluff accumulates there, they spray it with water. Seeds are separated from silky hairs and dried a little.


If there is a desire to preserve poplar seeds, then they are kept in a cold and dry room for no more than a year.

For planting, many gardeners recommend using seeds from a nursery that have already undergone stratification, that is, aging for a long time in cold conditions (approximate temperature 0-5 degrees), or you will have to carry it out yourself. Then you need to put poplar seeds on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator and keep there until the end of winter. Sowing is carried out in seedling boxes filled with nutritious soil (for example, a mixture of peat and sand).After sowing, a piece of glass should be placed on the container or wrapped in plastic wrap. Only a few months after sowing, with careful care (watering and airing), the first shoots can be seen. If this did not happen, then further waiting is meaningless.

Poplar propagation by cuttings

For this, early spring is suitable, when the buds on the poplar trees have not blossomed. Cuttings are cut from male plants. Blanks are taken from last year's branches. In this case, the length of the cutting should be 12 cm and at least a pair of buds should be present. The cuttings sit in a nutrient soil (a mixture of peat and sand) in a box or pot, at a distance of about 10 cm from each other, so that the buds are not buried in the ground. That is, the burial of the seedling is carried out so that 1/3 of its part remains above the soil surface. Watering is carried out immediately after planting. Until the height of the poplar cuttings reaches 15 cm, watering is carried out every day. After this, the substrate will be moistened only as its surface dries.

Only after a year from the moment of planting, poplar seedlings can be transplanted to a permanent place in the garden. The most favorable time for this is early spring. It has been noticed that planted plants take root at other times much more difficult.

Some gardeners put poplar cuttings in water and wait for root shoots to form. Only then is the planting carried out in the soil.

Poplar propagation by root suckers

There are varieties that can be propagated by young shoots formed in the near-trunk zone. Plants with the arrival of spring are separated from the mother tree and planted according to the rules of primary planting. However, gardeners note that such poplar seedlings are characterized by a weak root system and do not have sufficient resistance, they are most often affected by diseases and harmful insects.

Protection of poplar from diseases and pests when grown outdoors

Poplar Leaves

Most often, poplar trees suffer from necrosis and some species of tree cancer. All diseased specimens should be cut down, and the hemp remaining after them should be treated with a composition of creosol and fuel oil.

While the poplars are young, they can be exposed to diseases of a fungal origin. Such problems arise due to waterlogging of the soil and stagnation of moisture in it. It is important to carry out agrotechnical measures to arrange diseases - to remove parts of the plant covered with various manifestations of diseases (whitish, brown or gray bloom) and to carry out treatment with fungicidal preparations, such as Bordeaux liquid or Fundazol. It is important not to allow the soil to be waterlogged; for this, planting should not be carried out in a heavy soil mixture and watering is performed when the soil surface dries up.

Of the pests that infect poplar, insects are isolated that feed on young leaves and spoil the bark, among them: scale insects, patches, barbel beetles, leaf beetles, as well as weevils, bark beetles, etc. In order to choose a means to combat the invasion, it is important to determine what kind of harmful insect settled on the plant. In any case, broad spectrum insecticides such as Aktara, Fastak or Vermitic are suitable.

Read also about the possible difficulties when growing gledichia outdoors

Poplar applications and curious notes about the tree

Poplar fluff

Despite the fact that many people do not like the time when, because of the poplar plantations, everything is covered with their fluff, it is worth recalling the benefits and some aspects of the use of this plant. Poplar is characterized not only by a high growth rate, which is advantageously used in landscape gardening, but also helps to cleanse the air from urban pollution (gas and smoke). In addition, it contributes to the destruction of pathogenic microbes.At the same time, it cannot be compared with it in air filtration, no other representative of the flora, even conifers.

Poplar wood is soft and is successfully used in industries such as construction, furniture or paper industry. To use poplar wood with specified characteristics for industrial purposes, work is underway to develop hybrid and genetically modified varieties. Poplar foliage and inflorescences are the material from which dyes are made on a natural basis - yellow and purple, respectively.

The black poplar species are used to prepare medications from the buds, and they are also part of the popular Riga balsam. Shoots can be used as branch feed for livestock feed.

It is curious that if the poplar growing nearby the house has a height of 50-60 m, then it can serve as a real lightning rod.

Since it was found that some species of the genus have the property of not producing fluff, they are actively used in the green architecture of cities and parks. Such exceptions are laurel and pyramidal poplar. They try not to get rid of old poplar plantations, but prune them in such a way that they do not face the problem of poplar fluff for about five years.

However, this aspect is not the problem with old poplar trees. Since the wood of the plant is characterized not only by softness, but can also easily rot, and the root system becomes extremely weak, such specimens may not withstand the gusts of wind. Such a poplar has the ability to fall at any moment in windy weather or a thunderstorm and fall on the road or residential buildings. The worst option would be such a fall on a person or transport, therefore, plants that have reached 60–80 years old need to be examined and, if any traces of rottenness are found, removed.

Poplar species

Today, there are more than a hundred different poplar species, which scientists have divided into six segments:

  1. Mexican species, characterized by low heights and combining features of both poplar and aspen. The distribution area is in Mexico and the United States.
  2. Deltoid species, in which the leaf plates have a triangular shape and are attached to the shoots with elongated petioles. The crown of such plants has a pyramidal shape.
  3. Leukoid species are the most ancient group of the poplar genus. The foliage and catkins of such plants are large.
  4. Folk or Popolus species represented by trees, buds and leaf plates of which do not have the property of releasing a sticky substance. The foliage has rather long petioles and reacts by stirring to any breath of wind. The outlines of the leaves are palmate, on the surface there is pubescence on the back. The most famous species from this group is the Silver Poplar.
  5. Balsamic species characterized by the release of a large amount of resin on foliage and buds.
  6. Turangi - varieties of poplar, from afar very similar to aspen, but the outlines of the crown of such plants are not so thickened.

At the same time, it is customary to grow the following species in ornamental gardening:

In the photo Pyramidal Poplar

Poplar pyramidal (Populus Pyramidalis)

is a tree-like plant with sufficient height and slender outlines. The owner of a columnar crown, in the lower part of its contour is characterized by expansion, gradual narrowing towards the apex. Thanks to this, the tree is somewhat similar to cypress. There are suggestions that the native range of the species falls on the regions of Asia Minor, but there is no reliable data.

The leaf plates of the pyramidal poplar are diamond-shaped, but they are in the form of triangles. Their size is small. The species does not differ in frost resistance, but shows excellent growth in central Russia and in the south of the West Siberian regions.Suitable for green architecture in cities and towns, it can be grown both singly and in group plantings, there is the possibility of forming alleys.

In the photo Fragrant Poplar

Sweet poplar (Populus Suaveolens)

The natural growing area falls on the lands of eastern Siberia, as well as in the north of China and Mongolia. It is characterized by light-requiring. The height of the tree is approaching 20 m. The bush takes on oval-ovoid outlines. The trunk of the plant is covered with a light bark, which has a grayish-yellow tint. During the growing season, and especially in spring, the buds and young twigs are distinguished by their fragrant and resinous coating, for which the species was named.

The leaf plates of the fragrant poplar have a bright green color, their surface is dense and shiny. The contours of the leaf plates are oval; there is a pointed tip at the top. The leaves themselves are dense, with a slightly whitish color on the back side. During flowering, inflorescences are formed that have the appearance of hanging earrings made up of small flowers.

When the plant is still young, the fragrant poplar has an increased growth rate and since the species is highly frost-resistant, it is used for green construction in the northern regions. Despite all the advantages, the life span is short.

Pictured Poplar laurel

Poplar laurel (Populus Laurifolia)

is widespread throughout Siberian territory. It prefers to grow on pebble floodplains near rivers, although it often grows "climbing" to an altitude of 1800 m above sea level. It is distinguished from the fragrant poplar by its shade tolerance. It is a tree of considerable size, the crown of which takes on slightly branched tent-like outlines. The trunk is covered with dark bark, deep cracks cut through its surface.

The leaves of laurel poplar have elongated lanceolate outlines. The color of the deciduous mass is dark emerald, the surface is shiny. The foliage is located on the shortened shoots, so it seems that the leaves are arranged in bunches. This aspect gives the plant a decorative effect.

The growth rate of this poplar is not as high as that of other species, but it is resistant to urban pollution (smoke and burning), and the plant is also characterized by unpretentiousness and excellent winter hardiness.

In the photo Black Poplar

Black Poplar (Populus Nigra)

often found under the name Osokar… It is found on the territory of Russia, both in the middle latitudes and in the south, which includes the Crimea and the Caucasus. It can grow on the lands of Central Asia or even in the West Siberian regions. You can see such a plant in Russian reserves. Under natural conditions, preference is given to light forests, can grow on a loose sandy substrate, typical of river valleys.

Black poplar is a tree with significant parameters of height and power. The crown has a spreading outline. The bark covering the trunk is fractured. When the plant is young, its bark has a light gray color, which, as it grows, acquires a black color, which is the reason for the species name. The leaf plates are characterized by the shape of a rhombus, but in rare cases they take on a triangular shape. There is a sharp point at the top of the foliage. Leaves are painted in dark green color, have a light aroma.

The black poplar species has high winter hardiness and drought resistance, is characterized by undemanding cultivation, but if it is planted in a rich humus and moist substrate, then its growth rate will increase.

Related article: Tips for planting and caring for broom in open field conditions

Video about the cultivation and reproduction of poplar:

Poplar photos:

Photo Poplar 1 Photo Poplar 2 Photo Poplar 3 Photo Poplar 4 Photo Poplar 5

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