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Princess Tree

(June 2010)

QuestionI ordered three Royal Paulownia trees out of a catalogue about three years ago and planted them. We planted those because we needed fast growing trees. I planted one in front of the house, one on the side of the house and one right next to the house. They are growing but the one right next to the house is growing the fastest! It’s about 8 feet tall, and it flowered for the first time this year with beautiful purple blooms. This tree is really close to the house. How large is it going to grow and do we need to cut it down if it is too close? Any pointers on care of these trees?

AnswerRoyal Paulownia or Empress trees are Paulownia tomentosa. They are weak-wooded fast growing trees that can produce enormous leaves when they are young, but then have a more normal sized leaf as the tree matures. Even young trees bloomed prolifically this spring, with large purple flower clusters that looked like candelabras. While they are showy in bloom, they tend to freely reseed themselves and start falling apart with age. For that reason they aren’t the best shade tree. They will also grow quite large – 30-40 foot minimum in height. As with any shade tree, they should not be planted any closer to the foundation than fifteen to twenty feet. If it is closer than that, consider transplanting it this fall to an area where it has room to grow, or plant another more long lived species.


QuestionCan you tell me if the Royal Empress Tree is suitable for zone 8?

AnswerRoyal Empress tree-- Paulownia tomentosa will grow fine in zone 8. Do be aware that it is a fast growing tree and can be fairly short lived and messy. It does have beautiful purple flowers in the spring, but the woody seed capsules that result spread seed which can grow readily in unwanted locations.

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