Royal Empress Trees

You have received a young Royal Empress Tree. Do not be alarmed if your tree has no leaves; your tree might have been trimmed for survival during shipping, or it is going into a dormant state. You may be surprised at what you see, so let us tell you what you have and what to do with them. Our foremost desire is for your satisfaction and success in growing your Royal Empress Tree!

A great deal of care has been taken to package your tree. Still, it has been in a dark box for two to three days, likely handled roughly and possibly exposed to extreme temperatures. Your tree may look a little wilted or dry, but this is common and nothing to be concerned about.

If you received your plants in the Fall/Winter, Click here for more Specific Instructions.

If the roots look too dry, sprinkle some water on them. This will give it the water it was lacking when it was traveling through the mail. Once wet, place your tree into a light colored container with good soil and water it. Only put your tree in a container during extreme temperatures (90 degrees and above or freezing ground temperatures). If temperatures are above freezing or below 90 degrees you may then plant your tree(s) directly into the ground. The container should be large enough to accommodate its expansive and fast-growing root system. If not, gently trim back the tree’s roots so that it will fit.

Leave your tree potted for at least 2 weeks so that it can adjust to your environment. Place it in partial sunshine (at least 4 hours of direct sunlight a day). Your tree will be able to handle direct sunlight once established. When planting, make sure that the roots are fully planted in dirt and that no air comes in contact with them. If you have received your tree(s) during the winter or fall, see planting instructions as listed below.

Pay close attention to keeping your tree cool, its roots moist and protected from direct sunlight, wind, and extreme temperatures.

Royal Empress Tree saplings are not like most other type of plants that you have seen. They are basically roots, nearly 95%, and primarily a single taproot. Dormant plants may have no discernable tops (stems and leaves) and may appear as long skinny brown carrots. Energy is stored in the root in the form of plant carbohydrates, sugars, starches, proteins, minerals, water and other organic compounds, similar to a potato or carrot. You may see a short stub of a stem or a brown dried-up stem on dormant seedlings. Actively growing seedlings may have one or more sets of leaves on a green stem. Your young sapling may arrive in a totally dormant state with no sign of buds, or they may have small buds forming on one end and small white roots forming on the opposite end.

Fall and Winter Planting Instructions:

Dormant Empress Tree Winter Planting Directions

Thank you for purchasing your Empress (Paulownia) Tree. In addition to being beautiful, the Empress Tree is one of the most environmentally beneficial trees on Earth. It’s incredibly efficient at absorbing carbon dioxide (greenhouse gases) and releasing large amounts of oxygen into the air we breathe.

A great deal of care has been taken to package your tree(s). Still, it has been in a dark box for several days, likely handled roughly in transit, and possibly exposed to extreme temperatures.

Your Royal Empress Paulownia tree is in a dormant state, similar to sleep. It was shipped this way to ensure a higher survival rate at this time of year.


No matter what climate you are in, do NOT place your fertilizer in your pot over winter. Instead, save your fertilizer for the springtime. Plant your tree after the last frost or when surrounding plants begin to bud out.

DO NOT OVER-WATER your Empress Tree . When the top 2 to 3 inches of the potting medium is dry, add water. Do not allow soil to stay soggy. Empress trees will not tolerate over watering when potted. As a rule, let the soil surrounding the plant dry out before watering. If your tree is wet upon arrival, skip the initial watering for two days. Do not let the roots stay saturated when potted. Drooping branches and shriveled, brown leaves are signs of both under and over watering. If under-watered, the leaves will become dry and brittle. If over-watered, the leaves will become black and begin to shrink. They will be soft, not brittle. If this happens, stop watering your tree until it revives. If too much damage has been done, it will grow a new trunk from the base and grow a new tree.

Planting Instructions
Dig up an area 1 to 3 feet deep and at least 1 to 3 feet in diameter. This will loosen the soil and remove grass. Grass will compete with your tree for the surrounding soil’s nutrients. For best results, mix in potting soil or soil conditioner, especially if planting in clay or poor soil.

After digging your hole, place the tree in the hole and spread the roots out evenly. Surround them with dirt so that no air pockets are present. You can gently press down on the dirt to remove any cavities. Water immediately after planting to get rid of any other air pockets.

In addition, you want to plant your tree so that the “root collar” is level with the ground (see Fig. 2). (The “root collar” is the height where the roots effectively become the stem of the tree. It is commonly seen as a line that is lighter bark on top, darker roots on bottom. This is the line where the soil initially came to when your seedling was grown.)

We recommend planting your new Empress Tree(s) at least 3 feet from sidewalks. Also, avoid planting your new tree(s) over septic systems. You need to plant at least 10 feet from building structures. Be sure to select a sunny area with free draining soil. Your new Empress tree(s) will not thrive in a spot that holds excess water. Avoid areas that stay soggy after heavy rains.

Important Summer Information:
If you are experiencing severe drought, avoid planting your tree(s) in the ground. It is suggested that you plant your tree in a 3-5 gallon, light-colored pot in the shade. Once the temperature drops or the drought breaks, you can transplant your tree to the area of your lawn that you want.

Spring Pruning:
Let your tree grow for one entire year. If your empress tree did not grow at least 4 feet before winter dormancy, we recommend that you cut it to the ground at the very start of spring (a process called coppicing). This may seem odd, but it will grow a very straight, beautiful tree. Your tree(s) will more than make up for the lost growth in the first few weeks. We have seen some Empress Trees grow as many as 20 feet in the first year after being cut back to the ground.

Don’t worry about being exact. This process (coppicing) can be done any time of year, though we recommend spring. The new stump will have several trunks coming up from it. Select the largest trunk and pinch the others off. This one will grow at a very rapid rate and will grow into a very straight tree.

Empress Trees love fertilizer. Organic fertilizer high in nitrogen works well. You can use Miracle Gro or a balanced tree fertilizer. You can fertilize twice a month in the growing season. Stop fertilizing before the tree goes back into dormancy. Additional fertilizing should only be done after the first year.

Weed Control:
Keep weeds and grass two to three feet away from the tree in the first year. Pull the weeds initially, and then you can use a growing mat or mulch. Do not spray Roundup® on a young tree, and be careful that wind does not blow chemical drift on the tree. During the first year, weeds and grass rob moisture away from young trees and can cut their growth rate in half.

The Royal Empress Tree is not a desired food for deer. However, if nothing more appetizing is available, they have been known to eat the growth bud at the top of the stem. If you think this may be a problem, sprinkle some Deer Away® on the top of the tree until it grows 6 feet tall (beyond the reach of the deer).

Branch Pruning:
Large leaves grow in pairs up the tree (one on each side). Every few inches up the tree, you will see a new set. These should be left on the tree to maximize photosynthesis. These leaves will fall off later. Above each leaf on the tree’s stem, you will see a little bud growing. This is referred to as a “sucker.” It is a permanent branch trying to grow. Pinch these off until you get to the height where you want your first branches to grow. The higher you let your branches start, the higher your clearance will be under the branches (see Fig. 3).

Flowering Trees:
You should start seeing flowers blooming within the first or second year. You will see buds on the tree through the winter. Flowers will bloom at the very beginning of spring.

Insects and Disease:
The best defense is a healthy tree. Empress Trees are very hardy. Good soil, proper feeding, and correct watering are the keys to its prosperity. If worms bite holes in the leaves, you can sprinkle Sevin-10 Dust® on them. These little bites do not affect the tree since it is growing at such a fast rate and putting on so many new leaves.

The tree is not poisonous. In fact, its leaves are fed to livestock as a high protein fodder.

Winter Dormancy:
During late fall and winter, your tree will go dormant. The leaves will fall off and the stem will turn brown. Nothing will be happening above ground, but the roots will continue to grow below, especially during nice days. This winter root growth will help accelerate growth when spring comes.


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Interesting Facts about Your Paulownia Empress Tree

Empress wood is the second most valuable wood grown in the US, behind only Cherry.

Throughout the Orient, the Empress tree is planted at the birth of a daughter. When she marries, the tree is cut down and used to build a wedding chest and gifts.

Ancient lore has it that the legendary Phoenix flew across the Orient and would only land on Empress Trees – bringing good fortune to the nearby household.

Empress lumber is farmed on plantations rather than taken from old growth forests. It thrives on marginal or even toxic soil.

Empress roots go down as far as 40 feet which helps to regulate the water table as well as remove soil salinity and ground pollutants. Empress trees are also used to clean toxic soil and absorb animal waste.

Giant leaves drop each winter, releasing nitrogen and increasing soil fertility.

In the orient, Empress trees are planted between row crops and have improved yields by as much as 30%.

Your cloned tree is non-invasive; its seeds are virtually sterile.

Empress trees save forests by producing sawn timber in 7-12 years and growing 2-4 times more lumber than most other commercial trees in the same time period. This is vital as the supply of exotic and hardwood trees rapidly diminishes.

After being harvested, a new Empress tree grows back from the stump and uses the same well-established root system. This saves post-harvest clearing costs, land erosion and runoff. The same stump can re-grow 7-10 full sized trees.

The technology that created your Super Tree is the result of a major international research project that planted millions of Empress trees throughout China, India, and the Philippians.

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