Paulownia tomentosa Tree

Empress or Princess Trees
  • £54.99 (ex VAT)

This unusual and striking ornamental tree makes an interesting specimen. Paulownia Tomentosa produces very large (huge actually!), heart-shaped leaves in opposite pairs with fine hairs all over. The foliage emerges light green before turning to mid-green and then golden-brown in the autumn. One of the most appealing features of this rounded tree are its amazing flowers, which stand up like foxgloves, all over the bare branches in early spring. These pale lilac flowers look stunning, like a lilac mist from afar, and are pleasantly scented.

This beautiful tree will grow to 5 x 5 metres in 20 years and will grow in most sunny positions and in dappled shade, choose a sheltered position with well-drained soil for the best results, but Paulownia Tomentosa is tolerant of all soil types. Paulownia takes well to being pollarded (or coppiced), cutting them down to ground level in February.  They will re-grow within one season so that by late-summer it will be 5m tall again (which is actually quite a miraculous thing to watch) with leaves of up to 30 inches across.

In addition to attractive foliage and remarkable flowers, the Foxglove Tree produces curious seed pods that are 3-4cm long and hang in clusters, adding even more interest to this attractive tree. Paulownia Tomentosa was given its name - Paulownia - in honour of the Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia, also referred to as Anna Paulowna. Steeped in history, Paulownia Tomentosa is traditionally planted in China when a baby girl is born and then cut down when she is eligible for marriage to carve into wooden objects for her dowry; Paulownia wood carving is a fine art form in Japan and China. It is also legend that the Phoenix will only land on the branches of the Empress Tree.

Due to the size of leaves, please expect some leaf damage on deliveries made when the tree is in leaf - it is impossible to pack a tree like Paulownia without causing some damage - just remove any damaged leaves on arrival with sharp secateurs and new leaves will grow in no time at all.

AKA Empress tree, Foxglove tree, Princess Tree, Paulownia Tree,

  • Common name: Empress Tree or Princess Tree
  • Awards: RHS Award of Garden Merit
  • Height and spread in 20 years: 5 x 5 metres
  • Seasons of interest: Spring, Summer
  • Foliage: Lilac flowers displayed on bare branches in early spring, very large, heart-shaped green leaves in summer, turning golden brown in autumn
  • Soil: Suited to well-drained sites and tolerant of most soil types

Planting Advice for Paulownia Tomentosa trees

When planting Empress trees, it is important to prepare the planting area well. Pot grown trees can be planted at any time of the year. You will need to carry out the following to prepare your planting site.

Firstly, remove all weeds and grass within a metre of your desired planting hole then dig a hole as deep as your root mass and approximately 2x as wide. We recommend digging a square hole as this encourages the roots to grow straight as opposed to around, inside the hole. To help your tree establish more effectively, we advise applying root grow (sprinkle in the hole for pot grown trees), especially if you have poor soil. Gently loosen the roots and place into the planting hole.

If your soil is poor, mix 50% of the original soil with 50% high quality compost, fill in the hole and firm around gently. Make sure not to bank the soil up around the collar of the tree as this can cause problems.

We recommend planting any ornamental tree with a stake and tie, to see how to use a tree stake and tie, watch our informational how to videos.

Aftercare Advice for Empress trees

If you’re planting in dry weather, water well and regularly for the first few months. The same goes for spring and summer planting. Make sure to keep an eye on your young tree and increase watering if there are extended periods of hot or dry weather. If you’re planting in autumn, you may only need to water your tree a little. We also stock a range of irrigation kits, suitable for a variety of planting schemes.

Once planted, it is important to keep the area free of competing weeds and grass for the first couple of growing seasons. Using a glyphosate based weed killer or installing mulch matting and bark chips will aid in this. Do not simply mow the grass around the area as this will only encourage it to grow more vigorously. If you know your area is prone to rabbits, we would advise using a rabbit guard.

Pruning Advice for Paulownia Tomentosa trees

Foxglove trees do not require regular pruning. If you wish to tidy up your Princess tree, do this during the dormant season. Focus on removing any damaged, diseased or overcrowded branches. If you require a clear trunk, remove any side shoots to help raise the crown.

Delivery Timescales

Most deliveries are made within a week of placing the order. All trees are carefully packed by our experienced team, with many despatched to our tried and tested couriers within 24 hours (please allow up to 10 days). There's no need to be in to receive your trees and you can request where they are left via the checkout.

There is a slightly longer timescale on pleached and mature trees (trees over 2.5m in height) because we group orders together by geographic area for specialist delivery - we will contact these customers to notify them of the delivery date and whether the delivery driver needs assistance.

Gift trees and those required by a specific date can be accommodated with pleasure, although we accept no legal responsibility for late deliveries.

Our nursery is a busy despatch centre, so please make an appointment to collect or view trees.  For collections, despatch charges will be refunded.

Delivery Costs

1 small tree (most trees with a height under 1.5 metres) : £7.95 + vat

1 medium tree (most trees 1.5-2 metres in height) or 2-4 small trees: £9.95 + vat

2+ medium trees or 5+ small trees: £12.95 + vat

1-4 large trees (trees too large to fit in a box): £19.95 + vat

Mature, pleached or 5+ large trees: Cost is calculated in the checkout process and varies by postcode. You can buy additional trees with no increase in delivery cost.

The above prices exclude the Scottish Highlands, where delivery starts from £24.95 + vat and is calculated in the checkout process.

Northern Ireland, Channel Islands and Non Mainland UK

Our courier charges are not viable for just one or two trees, but if you have a larger requirement then please do speak to us to see if we can find a solution.

Below are definitions of various forms, which refer to the shape of the tree defined by the pruning it has received. For more advice, please contact us.

Single Stem / Pruned and shaped: Classic shaped tree with a single stem that has had pruning to help create a beautiful, natural shape.

Top grafted: A height noted next to this form refers to the length of clear stem, which will not grow taller. Only the head of branches will develop. Top grafted trees do not require complicated pruning and are ideal for small spaces.

Multi Stem: A multi stem tree is has two or more stems arising from or near ground level, growing from one root system. Take care to buy a true multi-stem like all ours and not those that are 3 saplings in a pot to cheaply imitate them.

Feathered: A feathered tree has branches from the bottom of the trunk all the way up. These branches can be removed if a clear stem is required.

Bush: A plant with many stems low down, rather than one clear stem.

Climber: A plant that is a natural climber and will be delivered usually running up a bamboo cane, ready to position in the garden.

Standard Tree: A more mature tree with an upright clear stem of approximately 1.8m-2.0m (measured from the soil to the lowest branch), which supports a branched crown. Standards are available in different forms relating to their girth size (circumference of the stem measured 1m above soil level), not height.

Standard  either 6-10cm or 8-10cm girth, approximately 2.5-3.0m in height
Premium Standard  10-12cm girth, approximately 3.0-3.5m in height
Heavy Standard  12-14cm girth, approximately 3.5-4.5m in height
Extra Heavy Standard 14-16cm girth approximately 4.0-6m in height

The product table below gives the sizes and forms offered for this variety, along with photos you can enlarge (these are only a guideline as all plants are unique so vary slightly).

Plant Specification Form Supplied Size Root typePrice Quantity Qty
Paulownia tomentosa Tree Form: Pruned & Shaped Tree Supplied Size: 120-150cm Root type: 12L pot Paulownia tomentosa Tree Price £54.99 (ex VAT)
Pruned & Shaped Tree 120-150cm 12L pot £54.99 (ex VAT)
Total: £0.00 (VAT Free)