Will I be sorry? Hybrid Poplar trees.

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Diana/KY, Sep 30, 2004.

  1. Diana/KY

    Diana/KY Well-Known Member

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    About 4 years ago I came across an ad in a gardening magazine for fast growing, disease resistant, and best of all CHEAP trees. I had been wanting to plant trees down our lane on both sides but could never afford to buy 30 trees. These trees were Hybrid Poplars and I'm sure most of you have read about them. They are the shade tree hybrid poplar, not the type that is used as a privacy screen or wind block. Well, the trees are 4 years old going on 5 and they are monsters! Long, tall, skinny trees. I can't believe how tall they've gotten in just 4 years. Does anyone know if they will fill out and be nice looking? Have I made a mistake planting this tree? It kind of makes me nervous right now, like the skinny things could blow over at any time. I'm wondering if I should cut them down now, while it would not be so difficult, or let them go for another few years and see how they turn out. You know the old saying, You get what you pay for...I'm hoping that's not true in this case. What would you do?
     
  2. Kev

    Kev Member

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    Hi Diana,
    Poplar trees grow like this before they branch out at the top. They will get fuller, but it will take probably a couple of more years. IMHO i'd leave them for awhile yet, then if they don,t work out like you planned sell them for firewood to get back your money, also check with your local extension agent they might have some answers or tips on what to do.
     

  3. pointer_hunter

    pointer_hunter Well-Known Member

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    My step-father planted some many moons ago. His dog had puppies and they ate the things right down to the ground. They survived and are now very large. They do produce a lot of shade, but as for looks....I've seen a lot better. We had to cut one down to make room for their new house and the root system was twice as long as the tree was tall.
     
  4. landlord

    landlord Well-Known Member

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    Many people plant these trees to have a faster wind break established before the other trees mature. I have heard they may die in 20 years or so but by then other trees will be large enough to be the wind break.
     
  5. BCR

    BCR Well-Known Member

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    landlord has a good point. Start planting some pines or whatever alongside/nearby so that when you have to take these down eventually you will not have nothing there-cause it will look really naked.

    Hey, we all make mistakes. I planted several hundred yards of bamboo, while beautiful, became the bane of my existence. You can read about it on other threads. STILL paying for that mistake by having to hunt down errant shoots.

    If they are worrying you, start taking them out now. Or at least trim lower branches so that they will have less knots in the wood when you do take them down.
     
  6. MelissaW

    MelissaW Well-Known Member

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    I don't think you've made a mistake at all. We have been really pleased with ours. Like BCR and Landlord mentioned, it's a good idea to plant some other trees nearby. While the hybrid poplars live longer than lombardies, it's still a good idea to have something with a little more longevity growing nearby so that when the poplars die, you have something else. We planted ours in our hedgerow, along with Norway spruce, rowan, aspen, and elderberries. That combination has worked really well. By the way, I pruned mine a bit last year, and that helped them to fill out a little. Good luck!
     
  7. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    Hybrid poplars were bred for the paper and biofuel industries. They were bred to grow fast, straight and have minimal branches. They are typically harvested in just 10 years (+/- 5 years). Personally, I would cut them down now while they are a manageable size and replant "real" trees...pine, spruce, oak, maple, etc. If you plant new trees along side the growing poplars they will have to compete for water and sunlight and then when the poplar die or are cut down, they can fall on the "new" trees that you planted.
     
  8. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

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    We planted pines and poplars at the same time 3 years ago.
    The pines are 3 foot and the poplars will be probably12 ft this year. Probably cut the poplars in 4 or 5 years and leave the pines.
    Pines are 10' apart in 2 staggered rows and the poplars are 20'


    mik
    ell
     
  9. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Lots of folks in the high desert use em around the property line for quick shade and privacy and fast growth.In that respect they are very good trees.I agree with the others,plant your permanent trees now.
    BooBoo
     
  10. Calico Katie

    Calico Katie Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The type of poplars you're describing won't bush out. My sister and her husband bought a couple hundred of them about 20 years ago from the Texas Soil Conservation agency to put up around the boundary of their land as windbreaks and privacy screens. In 4 years they get about 50 to 60 feet tall and should be planted fairly close together, staggered. No reason to be sorry you have them. They're just not what you expected because you wanted shade trees. The ones my sister and BIL planted got bores or a blight of some kind when they were about 4 years old and they lost a lot of them. You may want to spray yours about now to avoid that possibility. I think they're really pretty trees, tall and elegant. The conservation agency here sells different kinds of trees and shrubs in packages for naturalizing and establishing windbreaks. You can buy packages of 40 or 50 trees and shrubs for around $50 to $70, depending on what kind of trees you get. They have a good variety. I'm sure many other states have a similar program
     
  11. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

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    I used to raise and sel these hybrids, there are 2 distict types; shade and screen, the screen type is a leafy telephone pole, the shade type will spread fairly well, and the shade types I have large leaved ones and small leaved ones... the large leaved ones tend to grow faster and spread better, the small leaved ones make good "shrub line" trees. I also raised white poplar thats not a hybrid but makes a very nice small shade tree.

    the only concern is the roots, they will lift sidewalks and invade leachbeds, so take care where you put em.

    if anyone is interested i have a whole yard of these 3 types and can provide cuttings to you cheap. I am always cutting a few down and replanting a few they make nice firewood.
    plus they are livestock safe, horses can munch them and not be in danger of poisioning.

    But planting the right hybrid strain for your desired effect is important... a shade one doesnt like cramped in a windrow, and a screen one wont give you any shade.

    the white types will run and spred with root shoots everywhere (nice hedgerow trees) the hybrids will not.

    I just had to cut down one that was 8 yrs old, the stump face 14 inches across, and the tree was well over 60 feet tall.
    some dont grow that well, depends on where they are how much water they find ect.. in general they grow pretty fast as you noticed.
    I like them, but i tend to like the white poplars better for my use, and they spred ut flatter for better shade, but they are much smaller.
    I'm only 5'3", I dont need tall trees...

    once you have ONE, you can take as many cuttings (1/2 inch thick branches with no shoots) as you can prune, in the fall bed them in good deep soil about 8 inches deep and in the spring they will have a lot of callus on them (white knobby tumor like growth on the in-dirt end) ready to explode into a rootball, thats the best time to transplant them.

    nice trees in the right place...
     
  12. Diana/KY

    Diana/KY Well-Known Member

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    You all have given me a lot to think about. Thank you so much for all the replies. I told my husband about all of the pros and cons I have learned about these trees from reading here. I told him I was leaning towards cutting them down now. He looks at me like I'm crazy. Well, guess we'll have to compromise and maybe I'll thin them (take out every other tree) and plant something with more longevity. I'm kind of concerned about the water line though. On one side of the road where they are planted, runs our city water line. I would estimate that the water line is approx. 20 feet from the tree line, but that's just a rough estimate. I haven't actually went out and measured yet. Some of you say they have damaging roots that grow quite long. If this is the case, we will have to cut them. Thanks again for all your help and if anyone else still wants to chime in, I'll be glad to read your advice. Any suggestions for a nice looking, fast growing tree with a manageable root system? Does such a tree exist?
     
  13. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    When I moved to this property and planted several thousand tree transplants on the north side, mostly for windbreak. Those trees included Red Pine, White and Blue Spruce, and Scotch Pine rated for this zone (2b). Many of those planted on drained hillside are upwards of 15 to 20 ft. The scotch pines seem to take off pretty fast for growth and more attractive than the fast growing Jack Pine here. I also planted marginal zone trees of norway spruce which only about half survive, but they are about 10 ft. high max.

    I also planted a row of siberean pear trees which grow fast and they are thick/wide and thorny, but effective windbreaks. The siberian pears are not particularly attractive and have smaller leaves. I also planted (from 2 yr. transplants) about 75 lilacs of the two varieties. One that suckers intersperspersed with the non-suckering varieties. Planted about 6 feet apart, they make an effective hedge-like growth are about 8 ft. high. These would require maintenance, and are shrubs more than trees.
    Poplar here is the dominant species of wild tree, so I think the 'hybrid' is the one grows here that in about 10 years would be well over 20 ft. high and about 4" diameter trunk. I wouldn't plant them for landscaping. I would pick something like weeping birch for hardwood.
    Where I got my stock from was a tree nursery selling 2 or 3 year transplants which were affordable buying per hundred or per thousand (at the time average maybe about 50 cents each?). I did most of that over a 3 year period, and the 'forest' and trees along driveway are quite noticable from fast growth. One Stotch Pine planted from a 6" seedling 10 years ago which I fertilized the second and third year is about 25 ft. high and strong. It's on the hill where I guess it likes it better and dwarfs the trees out in the field. It's quite attractive as a separate specimen.
    Another note on planting transplants is a neat tool that is made for that, like a wedge makes quick work in 2 steps. Another poke in the ground with the wedge about a foot away I added a starter fertilizer tab which is slow release for 2 years. I think that helps get them growing faster, too.

    Good luck.

    Rich ;)