Green Friday Just Got Better With Free Delivery*

Paulownia tomentosa Tree

Empress or Princess Trees
  • From £50 (inc VAT)

A striking ornamental tree, Paulownia tomentosa produces unusual flowers and huge heart-shaped leaves. The scented, pale lilac flowers sit on erect panicles and stand up like foxgloves, leading to the name of Foxglove tree. Sitting on the bare branches in early spring, they look like a lilac mist from afar. The leaves emerge in opposite pairs and can be up to 30 inches across. Coated in fine hairs, they start light green before turning mid-green and then golden-brown in the autumn. Curious seed pods, 3-4cm long, hang in clusters and add yet more interest.

A beautiful rounded tree, Paulownia tomentosa will grow to 5 x 5 metres in 20 years. Paulownia takes well to being pollarded (or coppiced) and will re-grow within one season, so that by late-summer it will be 5m tall again - a miraculous thing to watch! It will grow in sun and dappled shade and is tolerant of all soil types, but choose a sheltered position with well-drained soil for the best results.

Paulownia tomentosa was given its name in honour of the Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia, also known as Anna Paulowna. Steeped in history, Paulownia tomentosa is traditionally planted in China when a baby girl is born and 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 this tree. Paulownia tomentosa, known as both the Foxglove or Empress tree, is a truly remarkable tree.

Due to the size of leaves, please expect some leaf damage on deliveries made when the tree is in leaf - 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
  • Flowers: Lilac flowers displayed on bare branches in early spring
  • Foliage: Very large, heart-shaped green leaves turn 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 Costs

*Free delivery promotion excludes mature trees, extra large kits and delivery to Highlands or Islands. Discount applies at checkout.

  Small/medium trees & shrubs

Select semi-mature trees & shrubs

All other mature trees
Mainland UK ex. Scottish Highlands £8 for any quantity £35 for 1-4 trees From £55 for any quantity
Scottish Highlands & the Islands From £30    
Outside Mainland UK Currently we are unable to deliver outside of Mainland UK

Delivery Times

Next Day Despatch
We will always try to get your plants to you as quickly as possible.  For many of our trees and plants, if you order today we will despatch your order within 24 hours.  We are constantly adding to our range of next day plants, and we do not add a surcharge for this service. Click here to see our next day delivery plants.

Standard Delivery
We have one of the widest range of trees in the UK, and for those plants which we cannot despatch next day we will normally despatch within 4 weeks. The despatch time for different products will be confirmed when products are added to your shopping basket

We will only want to deliver your orders when they are perfect for planting! Depending on the season and how well the plants are growing, we will give our best estimates of the despatch dates for pre-orders.  These dates may vary and by species and while we will always try to deliver within these timeframes if the expected despatch does change then we will notify you by email.

Special Orders
Orders containing pleached or mature trees (trees over 2.5m in height) are delivered within 3 weeks. They require specialist delivery and are grouped geographically. Any customers ordering pleached or mature trees will be contacted and notified of their delivery date.

If your trees are required by a specific date, please let us know as soon as possible; while we can’t offer any guarantees we will always do our best to accommodate you. You can leave instructions in the notes field on the Delivery Page of the Checkout or send us an email at [email protected].

Please note that orders are shipped once all the trees in the order are ready.

Collections are by appointment only at our West Yorkshire-based nursery. If you would like to place an order for collection, please get in touch before placing your order. You will not be charged a delivery cost for a collection and any delivery cost that has been applied will be refunded.

The product table at the bottom of the page gives the forms and sizes available for this variety. Please note, photos are a guideline as all plants are unique. *Pot sizes may vary. Below are definitions of terms:

Supplied Size: Height measured from the top of the pot.

Single Stem tree: Classic tree with one trunk, pruned for a beautiful, natural shape.

Top grafted tree: A height next to this form refers to the length of clear stem, which will not grow taller. Only the head of branches will develop. Ideal for small spaces.

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

Multi Stem tree: Two or more stems arising from or near ground level, growing from one root system.

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

Clump: Several plants in one pot that give the appearance of a bushy multi stem tree.

Climber: Naturally climbing plant. Usually delivered running up a 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 branches of the crown). Standards are available in different forms relating to their girth size (circumference of the stem measured 1m above soil level), not height.


Plant Specification Form Size Root type Price Quantity Qty
Paulownia tomentosa Form: Single Stem Tree Size: 120-150cm Root type: 5L pot* Paulownia tomentosa Price £50 (inc VAT)
Single Stem Tree 120-150cm 5L pot* £50 (inc VAT)
Paulownia tomentosa Form: Single Stem Tree Size: 150-200cm Root type: 12L pot* Paulownia tomentosa Price £85 (inc VAT)
Single Stem Tree 150-200cm 12L pot* £85 (inc VAT)
Ready by: 31st Aug 2024
Ready by: 31st Aug 2024
Total: £0 (VAT Free)