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The Plant Guide

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Empress tree

Paulownia tomentosa

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This deciduous tree has thick shoots and large, lobed, bright green leaves. Fragrant pinkish lilac flowers appear in late spring with the foliage. When grown as a perennial, its robust shoots become sturdy stems 2 inches in diameter, with mammoth leaves as much as 2 feet across. Paulownia tomentosa can grow to 12 feet tall in a single season.

Noteworthy CharacteristicsThis native of China is naturalized in the eastern U.S. Grown as a large shade tree in milder parts of the country, it can be grown as a perennial, cutting it to the ground each spring. It tolerates polluted and poor soils.

CareGrow in fertile, well-drained soil and full sun. Flowers best in climates with long, hot summers.

PropagationFrom root cuttings in winter.

ProblemsCanker, dieback, powdery mildew, wood rot, and mushroom rot.

  • Genus : Paulownia
  • Plant Height : 10 to 15 feet
  • Plant Width : 3 to 6 feet
  • Zones : 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
  • Tolerance : Drought Tolerant
  • Moisture : Dry to Medium
  • Growth Rate : Fast
  • Light : Full Sun
  • Flower Color : Pink
  • Characteristics : Showy Foliage
  • Bloom Time : Spring
  • Plant Seasonal Interest : Spring Interest
  • Plant Type : Trees
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