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Paulownia tomentosa Tree

Empress or Princess Trees
  • From £54.99 (ex 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

1 small tree (most under 1.5 metres in height) : £9.95 + vat

1 medium tree (most 1.5-2 metres in height) or 2-4 small trees: £11.95 + vat

2+ medium trees or 5+ small trees: £14.95 + vat

1-4 trees delivered by pallet to kerbside (inc. mature Japanese Maples): 24.95 + vat

Mature trees, pleached trees or orders too large for pallet: Cost is calculated in the checkout process and varies by postcode not quantity. Starts from £48 + vat.

The above prices exclude the Scottish Highlands, where delivery starts from £24.95 + vat and is calculated in the checkout process. Please note, we are unable to deliver outside of Mainland UK.

Delivery Timescales

All trees are carefully packed by our experienced team and most are delivered within 3 weeks of placing the order, unless stated otherwise. There's no need to be in to receive your order and you can request where it is left via the checkout.

For pleached and mature trees (trees over 2.5m in height), we group orders together by geographic area for specialist delivery - we will contact these customers about the delivery date.

Trees on pre-order are still growing and an estimate of when they will be ready is on the product/basket page. Orders are despatched once all trees are ready.

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

To collect trees, please book an appointment. Delivery charges 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 / 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.

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.

Multi Stem: A multi stem tree has 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 can give the appearance of a multi stemmed and very bushy tree.

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 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:

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

Plant Specification Form Supplied Size Root typePrice Quantity Qty
Paulownia tomentosa Form: Single Stem Tree Supplied Size: 120-150cm Root type: 5L pot* Paulownia tomentosa Price £54.99 (ex VAT)
Single Stem Tree 120-150cm 5L pot* £54.99 (ex VAT)
Paulownia tomentosa Form: Single Stem Tree Supplied Size: 150-200cm Root type: 12L pot* Paulownia tomentosa Price £74.99 (ex VAT)
Single Stem Tree 150-200cm 12L pot* £74.99 (ex VAT)
Ready by: 31st Aug 2022
Ready by: 31st Aug 2022
Total: £0.00 (VAT Free)