Plains Cottonwood

Populus sargentii

If you want a native tree for your next landscaping project, choose the Plains cottonwood (Populus sargentii). These trees have a central leader with a pyramidal form. However, as it matures, the cottonwood takes a more rounded shape. Make sure to get this impressive tree for your customers.

Plains Cottonwood Attributes

This native tree is a spectacular specimen. It can reach a height of 100 feet and have a diameter larger than 4 feet. The crown is open and spreads out with slightly drooping branches. When the tree is young, it has smooth, light grey bark. As the Populus sargentii matures, the bark becomes rough and furrowed.

The leaves are triangular with long pointed tips. They have a shiny green color on the top and a pale green underside. When autumn arrives, the green leaves turn into a shade of brilliant yellow. Plains cottonwoods form 2- to 3-inch catkins. The catkins are red or yellow in color. These trees produce capsules that can split and release seeds. Those seeds have white cotton-like hair. You will see these seeds get dispersed by the wind in the early summer. Most cottonwoods will not produce seeds until they are at least 10 to 15 years old.

Plains Cottonwood



  • Plant Type: Stately tree
  • Watering Needs: Average
  • Botanical Pronunciation: PAW-pew-lus
  • Deciduous/evergreen: Deciduous
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Average landscape size: 50 to 80 feet tall and 20 to 30 wide
  • Special features: Large foliage
  • Foliage color: Green
  • Blooms: Spring
  • Flower color: Red
  • Flower attributes: Tiny red blooms
  • Garden style: Rustic
  • Design Ideas: Can be used as a windbreak. Stabilizes ground in areas with erosion issues. Place this tree near lakesides or marshy areas. Use as an element in a wildlife garden.
  • Companion Plants: Aspens, maples, and oaks

Plains Cottonwood Landscape Uses

Since the Populus sargentii is a massive tree, you want to place them in large spaces. For those who want some shade on their property, these trees are a perfect choice. They look great in a lakeside park or marshy area. Not only does the Plains cottonwood provide shade, but it becomes a great statement piece in those areas.

If the wind is an issue for your property, then these trees could be an ideal addition. The Plains cottonwood is a fast-growing tree, and it is a perfect choice for creating a windbreak. Plus, the leaves will rustle in the wind, creating a soothing sound.

Many people are choosing to create wildlife habitats in their landscapes. This cottonwood makes a great element in those areas. Birds and squirrels love to play among the branches. Along with that, the hollow trunk gives shelter to other types of wildlife. In addition to the protection, the bark and twigs are a tasty treat for deer and other animals.

Plains cottonwoods can be a great choice to create a natural forest. You want to plant them in a staggered pattern for a more naturalized look. City planners love these trees because they look great but require little maintenance. If you have space that is experiencing issues with soil erosion, think about adding the Populus sargentii to those areas. With their deep roots, they can help to rejuvenate these landscapes.

Since the cottonwood has a high canopy, you will not want to plant it under power lines. These trees live for up to 70 years. Make sure you place this Plains cottonwood in a spot where it can grow and flourish.

Plains Cottonwood Planting and Care

The Populus sargentii should be placed in a spot that receives full sunlight throughout the day. These trees thrive in USDA zones 3 to 9. It is an amazingly adaptable variety. This tree can tolerate both wet and dry conditions, including areas with standing water. Plus, the Plains cottonwood is an excellent choice for water-wise landscapes. This cottonwood is not particular about a specific pH or soil type. It can even handle environmental salt. For those reasons, this is a great choice for urban landscapes.

The Plains Cottonwood Makes an Exceptional Choice!

Populus sargentii

This massive hardwood tree is a great way to add an impressive feature to your landscape. These trees provide plenty of shade to any space, and they are low-maintenance varieties. Plus, the green foliage transforms into a brilliant yellow for the autumn season. From windbreaks to soil stabilization, these trees are an ideal choice for most outdoor spaces.

Need a Wholesale Nursery Near Me?
At Arbor Valley Nursery, we can help you bring the Plains cottonwood to your landscape design. Our company has experience helping commercial landscapers, nurseries, and garden centers get the best product home to their customers. Our inventory includes everything from trees to flowers. If you want to purchase this Plains cottonwood, please take a few minutes to fill out the contact form.

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