Paulownia Seed Propagation: Tips On Growing Royal Empress From Seed

Paulownia Seed Propagation: Tips On Growing Royal Empress From Seed

By: Teo Spengler

In springtime, Paulownia tormentosa is a dramatically beautiful tree. It bears velvety buds that develop into magnificent violet blossoms. The tree has many common names, including royal empress, and it is easy to propagate. If you are interested in growing royal empress from seed, as Mother Nature does, you’ll find that planting royal empress seeds is almost foolproof. Read on for more information about royal empress seed germination.

Paulownia Seed Propagation

Paulwnia tormentosa is a very attractive, fast-growing tree and easy to grow in a home garden in the right environment. It bears trumpet-like flowers which are large, lovely and fragrant in shades of blue or lavender. After the flower show in spring, the royal empress’s huge leaves appear. They are beautiful, exceptionally soft and downy. These are followed by a green fruit that matures into a brown capsule.

The tree was introduced into the U.S. during the 1800s. Within a few decades, it naturalized across the eastern side of the country via Paulownia seed propagation. The tree’s fruit is a four-compartment capsule containing thousands of tiny winged seeds. A mature tree produces some 20 million seeds every year.

Since the royal empress tree readily escapes cultivation, it is considered an invasive weed in some places. This raises the question: should you plant royal empress seeds at all? Only you can make that decision.

Growing Royal Empress from Seed

In the wild, seeds of royal empress trees are nature’s propagation method of choice. And royal empress seed germination is quite easy to achieve in most regions of the country. So, if you are growing royal empress from seed, you’ll have an easy time.

Those sowing seeds of royal empress will need to remember that the seeds are tiny. That means that you’ll have to make an extra effort to sow them thinly to prevent crowded seedlings.

One way to proceed with royal empress seed germination is to place them on a tray on top of compost. The seeds of royal empress require sunlight to germinate so don’t cover them with soil. Keep the soil moist for a month or two until you see that they are germinated. Covering the tray in plastic holds moisture in.

Once the seeds germinate, remove the plastic. The young seedlings shoot up fast, growing to 6 feet (2 m.) in the first growing season. With any luck, you may go from royal empress seed germination to enjoying the showy flowers in as little as two years.

Planting Paulownia Trees

If you are wondering where to plant Paulownia, pick a sheltered location. It’s a good idea to shield royal empress from strong wings. The wood of this quick-growing tree isn’t very strong and limbs can split off in gales.

On the other hand, royal empress trees don’t require any particular type of soil. Another good point is that they are drought tolerant.

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How to Sow Paulownia Empress Seeds

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Paulownia empress trees (Paulownia tomentosa) can grow 65 feet tall and produce large, showy purple flowers. A China native, the tree overwinters in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5b through 9b. In the right growing conditions a mature empress tree can produce 20,000 seeds. Collect the seed pods in late summer or early fall, after they turn brown but before they burst open. The seeds inside are very tiny and can be sown indoors between late fall and early spring.

Mix together peat moss, sand and vermiculite and fill the seed flat with the mixture. Wet the potting medium and allow the excess water to drain out of the drainage holes.

Pinch a few seeds between your thumb and forefinger and drop them into one section of the seed flat. Drop a pinch of seeds into each section until they all contain seeds. Try to spread out the seeds slightly with your finger to avoid overcrowding.

Place the tray in direct sunlight in a room that stays between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the University of Kentucky, unstratified seed needs 150 hours of sunlight to germinate. Cover the seeds with a layer of cheesecloth to keep them in place.

Water the seeds through the cheesecloth, keeping them moist but not soaked. When seedlings pop out of the soil, remove the cheesecloth and thin the plants to one per section.

Transplant the seedlings to individual pots when they reach 1/2 inch high. Use the same potting medium and plant the seedlings at the same depth they resided in the seed flat. Place the seedlings back in a warm and sunny environment indoors, water deeply and continue to keep the potting medium evenly moist.

  • You can plant the Paulownia outdoors when it reaches 10 to 14 inches high. Harden it off first by placing it in the shade for three to five days. After that period, plant it in a sunny place with average, well-drained soil.
  • If you can't sow the seeds right away, store them in an airtight container in a room between 38 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sarah Morse has been a writer since 2009, covering environmental topics, gardening and technology. She holds a bachelor's degree in English language and literature, a master's degree in English and a master's degree in information science.



They say this tree can save the world,it can grows 8 to 12 feet a year,they can reach a height of 50 feet but most are 30 to 40 feet ,they have a beautiful lavender flower in spring,this tree can live 80 to 100 years,very fast growing,there are beautiful pics on ebay of the tree,this is a pic of one of the trees starting out this auction is for a lot of 10 seeds seeds narvested sept 2012 more than 10 seeds in pack

New info. zones 3-11,but grows best in 5 and 11 zones
If you ar eunsure which zone you are in, you can google it to find out

The lister assumes full responsibility for this listing

Encouraging Healthy Growth
Create a watering ring around the outside of the tree. The watering ring can be leveled out after a couple of years. The watering ring will ensure that the outside roots receive plenty of water, which creates a healthier root system and a healthier tree. Mulch the seed with compost. After the seedling grows to a couple of feet, you can mulch with compost or pulverized bark.

When the tree gets to be about two feet in height, stake it so that it doesn't get ripped out by high winds. Be sure to use a material that is easily removed, as empress is a fast grower, and the stake lines will need to be lengthened from time to time as the trunk gets thicker.

If you are not ready to use the seeds immediately after harvesting, store them in the refrigerator, separate from fruits and vegetables. Seeds can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a year.

Planting Empress Tree Seeds
Light germination is the only thing needed to start empress tree seeds. This involves exposing the seeds to sunlight and moisture until they sprout. Before planting the seedlings, do a soil test to check the pH. The empress tree will grow in most soils, but it will do best in soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.0.

The planting hole should be just deep enough to cover the seed. Place seeds at least 20 feet apart, as the canopy of the full-grown tree can be quite wide. Cover the seeds with soil (no more than ¼ inch), pat the soil down and water the seed. Make sure the seed has shade. During germination and growth, keep the seed bed moist-at least until the empress tree becomes established.

Choosing Seeds
Most cultivars will grow anywhere on the East Coast, even up as far as Montreal. Before purchasing seeds, be sure you are getting seeds from a cultivar that will grow in your zone. If you are collecting seeds from an existing plant, allow the seed pods to dry on the tree. Harvest the seed pods and break them open to get the seed.

Be aware that this tree is considered invasive in most parts of the United States. It is banned in Connecticut. Empress trees will grow quickly along roadsides and in urban areas, potentially choking out native plant and tree species.

Growing a Royal Empress Tree from Seed

The empress tree, also known as the princess tree, royal paulownia and paulowia tomentosa, is native to China but has naturalized throughout the eastern United States. This tree can grow up to 10 feet per year and is considered invasive in some states. This hardwood tree produces large leaves, making a great tree for shade. Depending on the cultivar, empress trees can grow up to 60 feet in height.


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How to Use Seed Blankets to Plant a Garden

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Creating a flower garden can be as easy as rolling out a seed blanket in your plant bed. Seed blankets consist of layers of organic material, such as wood pulp, with flower or grass seed between the layers. The layers of compressed organic material protect the seeds from birds and rain so they can germinate and sprout. As the seeds get established, the material breaks down, adding mulch to the soil in the process.

Turn over the soil in the garden area using a garden fork or tiller. Remove any weeds, rocks and sticks from the area. Check the manufacturer's requirements for sun.

Place the seed blanket at one edge of the planting area and roll it out.

Water the seed blanket using a hose or sprinkler system right after laying it out, until it is damp all the way though.

Keep the seed blanket consistently damp by adding water whenever it starts to dry out.

  • Be careful during hot, dry days not to let the seed blanket dry out. Use a sprinkler to water the area to keep it damp when necessary.
  • Seed blankets tend to sprout in one to three weeks and bloom within eight weeks, but check the manufacturer's label for the specific blooming times.

Eulalia Palomo has been a professional writer since 2009. Prior to taking up writing full time she has worked as a landscape artist and organic gardener. Palomo holds a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies from Boston University. She travels widely and has spent over six years living abroad.

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