Planting on a dry site?
Try Spruce or Pine. Evergreens in general do their growing in the spring and largely shut down for the rest of the summer hence they tend to be the dominant tree in drier areas. They take advantage of the winter’s accumulation of moisture. By the time the summer heat has driven off the surface moisture, they don’t need much anyway.
Planting in a wet area
Most of our species can handle flooding while dormant (winter and early spring). However if you have periodic flooding during the growing season, stick to the following species for your wildlife habitat; buttonbush, cypress, red/silver maple, silky dogwood, white cedar, spruce, larch, alder, chokeberry, elderberry, winterberry, viburnum, ninebark, birch, gum (tupelo and sweet), swamp white oak, and poplar.
What won’t the deer eat?
Red cedar, spruce, buttonbush, walnut, cypress, larch, red pine, redwood, alder, bayberry, bearberry, bittersweet, chokeberry, cotoneaster, elderberry, lilac, birch, redbud, arrowwood viburnum, winterberry
What will the deer eat?
Probably the top selections for deer are arrowwood, aspen/hybrid poplar, cedar, chestnut, crabapple, grape, black gum, hawthorn, mountain ash, ninebark, oak, with acorns from English, a clear favorite, sumac and silky dogwood.
If you are in a heavy deer area and won’t fence plant everything 2′ apart or closer since will be eaten before it can bear fruit. Aspen or sumac can be planted 50′ apart since they will spread by their roots.
If you have an existing aspen stand, clear cutting it in blocks over a 20 year cycle with 5 years between cuttings would maximize deer and grouse habitat. If deer alone are of interest bush hogging everything every 5 years would be beneficial but certainly not esthetic. Study the growth response of your first clear cut. If your deer population is excessive there will be no regrowth and you should fence at least part of it for a few years or you could lose your aspen or other desirable species, leaving you only with what the deer don’t like. This may be true for any wildlife planting in a heavy deer area. There are many areas in Michigan were we essentially have feedlot management of the deer herd and are ending up with what the deer don’t want or need.
If you expect severe defoliation and don’t plan to fence, the ninebark will stand up well under intense browsing. I’ve seen it grow all summer with leaves never having a chance to grow to maturity with no apparent adverse affect on the plant other than it will never get very big. Planting larger stock would be a help in such a situation. Unfortunately ninebark is primarily a summer feed.
There has been some recent excitement about sawtooth oak since it is capable of acorns in five years, with annual crops. When planting oak solely for acorn production plant them in the open so that they will have light from all directions. Unfortunately they will never have any timber value due to the branching. Where you have an existing stand, thinning would be beneficial.
White pine, arrowwood, aspen/hybrid poplar, cedar, chestnut, crabapple, grape, hawthorn, mountain ash, ninebark, sumac, dogwood, barberry, beech and hackberry.
Chokeberry, crabapple, dogwood, wild grape, hawthorn, Oregon grape, sumac, viburnum, aspen, beech, birch, cherry, hazelnut / filbert, hornbeam
Rabbit will feed on dogwood, hawthorn, Indian current, Norway maple
Pheasant will feed on crabapple, dogwood, elderberry, Indian current, Oregon grape, snowberry, sumac, choke cherry
Quail will feed on white pine, chokeberry, dogwood, sumac, mountain ash, beech, cherry, and mulberry
Buttonbush, Indian current, trumpet vine, butterfly bush, and oak
Planting a sightscreen?
Many species can be used for sightscreens. Evergreens such as cedar, spruce, and pine are popular as they provide a visual barrier during the winter. In full sun, most species will grow fairly dense. In partial shade, stick to White Pine or Hemlock.
Spacing is a matter of choice. If an early sight screen isn’t your priority then I’d go with a ten foot spacing, to give them extra years without crowding each other which suppresses growth rate. If you have room, multiple rows could be staggered to give a quicker site screen and still give the non-crowding advantage. Another option is to plant close and then take out every other tree when they start to suppress one another.
Many species can be used for sightscreens. Evergreens are popular as they provide a visual barrier during the winter. In full sun, most species will grow fairly dense. In partial shade, stick to White Pine or Hemlock.
Planting on a shady site?
Try these species… Hemlock, Port Orford cedar, white pine, wild grape, ninebark, serviceberry, viburnum, Virginia creeper, witch-hazel, mountain ash, beech, chestnut, hornbeam, and maple.
Need a brine tolerant species?
If you are planting near a road or near the ocean, try cedar, cypress, white spruce, chokeberry, honeysuckle, winterberry, aspen, birch, cherry, white oak, and plum.
Need an alkaline tolerant species?
If you are planting in an abnormally high PH soil, try hackberry.
The following are frequently asked questions regarding hybrid poplar…
What is the best soil type for hybrids?
We have seen no consistent results, but if you have a choice, sandy loam generally appears to have a slight edge over other soils.
Will hybrids send up root suckers like native aspen?
Not normally, but this can be induced by cutting the roots of an established tree. This is sometimes done by disking to improve a stand for wildlife habitat. Most wildlife prefer stem densities of more than 2000 per acre (5’x5’ spacing).
What sort of growth can I expect from my trees the first year?
Anywhere from 0 to 10 feet depending on your site, weed control, moisture, and nutrients. Based on our customer experience the average is 2-3 feet first year growth and 3-4 feet for trees on their second year. We had a report of 12 feet from California’s central valley.
When is the best time to take delivery on my trees?
About a month before the native poplar begin to leaf out, if you plan conventional weed control. If you will use chemical control such as Round-up you should wait till the grass is 8-10 inches high to get the most lasting kill. We can hold your poplar dormant in our cooler till mid July, or even longer. Fall planting should be avoided in areas that have little snow and frost can be expected to reach deeper into the ground than the roots. If conditions are right, fall planting can be superior to spring.
Do these trees have “cotton”?
One clone we grow, we know to be female and will produce cotton, while the rest are males and will not produce cotton. If you prefer trees that do not produce cotton, please let us know at the time of ordering.
I’ve heard of various clones. Which is the best?
On a given site you can’t predict with 100% certainty. Based on our experience and what you can tell us about soil and moisture conditions we can make more likely selections. The best method is by experimenting with various clones on your site.
Will deer bother hybrid poplar?
It depends upon the location. When there’s lack of browse that deer prefer they will eat almost anything. If there are species available we’ve noted with letter A the deer will tend to ignore the poplar. Christmas tree growers can exploit these preferred species to decoy the deer from their crop.