Paulownia tomentosa, commonly called royal paulownia, empress tree or princess tree, is native to China. It is a fast-growing, deciduous tree that is primarily grown for its profuse spring bloom of foxglove-like flowers and its large catalpa-like green leaves. It is an upright to spreading deciduous tree that typically grows to 40’ tall with a rounded crown. It is noted for its profuse bloom of fragrant, tubular, funnel-shaped, pinkish-lavender flowers (to 2” long) with interior dark purple spotting and creamy yellow striping. Flowers appear in spring in clusters (to 14” long) before the foliage. Flower aroma is reminiscent of vanilla. Flowers are edible and are sometimes added to salads. Flowers are followed by oval, woody, dehiscent seed capsules that emerge sticky green and ripen to brown in fall, at which point they split open releasing abundant winged seeds. Ovate, green leaves (to 5-12” long) are lightly hairy above and densely hairy beneath. The wood is commercially valuable in Japan. Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Prefers sandy humusy loams with good drainage. Tolerates a wide range of soils including poor, dry ones. Tolerates light shade, but is generally intolerant of shady conditions. Blooms on old wood (buds form in summer for the following spring bloom). Overwintering flower buds are ornamentally attractive. Can also be grown in containers as a foliage plant.
The seeds can be sown on the soil outdoors and watered or they can be planted in pots and transplanted when they are seedling.
- Put some potting soil in a pot.
- Sow the seeds on the surface of the soil.
- Water the seeds.
- Place the pot in an area in full sun.
- When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.