How to Grow and Care Paulownia?

Paulownia (Foxglove Trees) is often known as the imperial Adam’s tree. Trees of both the semi-evergreen and deciduous types can be found within this genus, which contains multiple species. The subtropics are the most common habitat for this plant kind. It has rapid growth and can reach a height of about 300 cm.

How to Grow and Care Paulownia Tree

The majority of these species are grown as ornamental crops for parks and gardens for their aesthetic value. Wood from such a tree has a high price. A popular material for turning and building due to its low weight and high durability.

Paulownia Features

There is no other tree that can compare to the splendor of a paulownia tree in late spring, just as its leaves are beginning to unfurl and display their blue flowers. Because blue is one of those colors that practically seldom appears in spring flowering trees, gardeners have a strong urge to cultivate those that do.

Paulownia, often known as the foxglove tree or empress tree, is an evergreen tree that grows very quickly and is endemic to China. It is cultivated largely for the production of its enormous leaves and panicles of flowers that resemble foxgloves.

The tree’s trunk is straight and even, and its lamellar grayish bark covers its entire surface. Its diameter is as much as half a meter. This plant can grow to be between 18 and 20 meters tall. The lateral shoots stretch out in a mature paulownia to produce a rounded or oval crown. Growing a young plant at a mid-latitude can result in some trunk freezing and subsequent branching. This causes the plant to develop into a bushy hedge many feet in height.

Central to the root system is a rod that extends down into the ground somewhere between four and six meters. Additionally, lateral offshoots form.

Massive, long, opposite leaf blades that are shaped like a deltoid. The leaves could have pronounced lobes or teeth. Rich green, fibrous, thick leaf plates feature a pubescent front side and a felt-like back side. One sheet plate might be anywhere between 0.6 and 0.7 meters in length. The infant can be completely covered by a single sheet. Even in 8-10 month-old seedlings, the leaf has grown to be quite huge while the trunk diameter has only reached 20 mm. Intricately patterned big leaf plates add an exotic air to the tree. Until the first frost, the leaves will remain green, and the ground will only become brown at the surface.

Midway through March, before the leaves have appeared, the fragrant, beautiful flowers begin to open. Seven to eight weeks are spent in flowering. About 50-60 mm in diameter, the calyces resemble funnels. A lavender, cream, or purple flower with five outwardly curved petals. The stamens are quite lengthy. Each of the 7-15 flowers in the vertically oriented paniculate inflorescences.

Following pollination, ovoid fruits with a brownish-green hue develop. Their diameter is roughly 1 cm, and they’re bivalve boxes. There are lots of little seeds with wings within.

This plant expands at a phenomenal rate. The pace of growth is roughly six times that of oak. In ideal conditions, with an annual temperature of 10 to 14 degrees and adequate soil moisture, paulownia can grow between 2.5 and 4.5 meters in a single year. In their first two years of life, seedlings develop into slim, compact little trees with abundant foliage.

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Foxglove Trees paulownia blooming purple grow care

When it comes to frost, a plant’s hardiness can be gauged by its species. Accordingly, certain species cannot survive air temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, while others can thrive in temperatures as low as -30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Paulownias have an 80-100 year lifespan. As far as fast-growing trees go, this is quite close to a record.

The majority of such trees originate from Asia, specifically Japan and China. Not only that but in Japan, this plant is considered a national symbol. Banknotes, award orders, the Imperial coat of arms, medals, and official seals all feature paulownia motifs because of this.

South China province is home to this type of plant, and other areas of China and Southeast Asia share this same fortune (in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Taiwan). The ideal conditions for its growth include low elevation (less than 800 meters), flat terrain, and abundant moisture in the soil.

In warm climates, such as the Mediterranean, southern Ukraine, southern North America, the Caucasus, and the Crimean coast, you can find Paulownia species, which are characterized by their thermophilicity. Some species have the ability to rapidly adapt to new environments, making them suitable for cultivation even in more temperate climates.

How to Grow and Care Paulownia?


Plant paulownia in a well-lit, level area that is protected from severe winds and is not next to any fruit trees. Sandy loamy soil, black soil, and loose loam are ideal, but acidic to slightly alkaline soil is also fine. Heavy clay soil is extremely unsuitable for planting.

A year-old seedling is ideal for planting in the open ground because it has developed a strong tolerance to weather fluctuations. The planting season for paulownia is from April through October. The ideal dimensions for a landing pit are 60–70 centimeters in diameter and 100 centimeters in depth. A drainage layer 20 centimeters thick is built out at the bottom; fine gravel works well for this. Rotted manure, leaf humus, and 40 grams of the mineral complex are put into the soil that was removed from the pit.

When a sapling is first planted, a long peg is typically driven into the ground next to it so that it can later be used to tie the trunk together if it proves to be too flimsy. The tree is given copious amounts of water immediately after planting, with two buckets’ worth poured directly under it.


Young trees are watered once a week during the growing season, with one bucket of water put into the near-stem circle at a time. Paulownia has a robust root system after three years. No more watering is permitted. Only in extreme cases of drought should soil be watered.

Weeds around the trunk should be removed promptly, and the soil surface should be loosed gently to a depth of 50-70 mm on a regular basis.

Growing from seeds

The viability of the seeds must be verified before any attempt is made to cultivate the plant from seed. Put them under water and let them sit for a time. If any seeds sink to the bottom of your water container, scoop them out and spread them out on a napkin that has been dampened in advance. Put a layer of cling film over them. They need to be heated and moistened slightly every day (22-25 degrees). After 15 days, you should see the first shoots.

After that, a container is prepared with a fertile substrate of sod, leafy soil, and peat, and a napkin with seeds is placed within. Distribute the seeds over a shallow bed of substrate (0.2–0.3 cm). Greenhouse conditions are supplied for crops before strong sprouts form, and they require daily supplemental lighting. Seedlings can be planted outdoors once 12 months have passed.

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Paulownia Care

Planting and maintaining a paulownia requires little effort. She is not bothered by extreme temperatures or extended periods of drought because of her ability to adjust to her environment. Still, the tree needs to be covered to keep the frost away and watered regularly to thrive.

Top Dressing

Fertilizing seedlings once or twice per season is typical. To achieve this, a combination of mineral fertilizers and organic matter (such as compost, mullein, humus, or even bird poop) is utilized. Together with irrigation, the nutrition solution is applied in liquid.


Paulownia trees are easy to prune. When most of the branches are cut down, the plant recovers quickly. Winter-damaged stems should be pruned in the early spring before new growth appears to avoid further harm.

Diseases and Pests

In its immature stage, the tree is vulnerable to fungal infections. The presence of a high number of spores in the soil or insufficient irrigation can assist this. Leaf-feeding insects like aphids and scales can become a problem. Use traps and poisons made for the purpose of eliminating pests. It is suggested that fungicidal and insecticidal substances be sprayed on foliage on a regular basis. Natural remedies derived from things like tobacco dust, soap, or wood ash are also an option. Any rotten or diseased stems should be lopped off and burned.

Propagation Paulownia

The above paragraph details the steps necessary to germinate and cultivate a paulownia plant from seed. Root cuttings and seedlings are also viable methods of reproduction.


In the summer or the spring, you can collect your cuttings. Use the second or third year of a plant’s stem for this purpose. You can’t go lower than 15 centimeters for the handle’s length. Plant them in a soil mixture of peat and sand, or directly in the ground, leaving only 20-30 mm of the section exposed. Prepare a greenhouse environment for cuttings before the appearance of young shoots. Once the sprouts have grown to a length of 10 cm, pick out the strongest and discard the others.

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Root offspring

Root appendages form as a tree matures. They are removed in the spring and replanted elsewhere. Seedlings require an area with ideal soil composition and protection from strong winds in order to flourish. In addition, they water at just the right times.

Types of Paulownia

There are several types of paulownia, with the most popular being:

Big tree Paulownia tomentosa blooming

Paulownia tomentosa

The hardiest of plants, these ones can keep growing even when the temperature outside drops to -25 degrees Fahrenheit. It served as the basis for the development of a hybrid crop with good potential in the mid-latitudes. The tree grows quite quickly; each year it adds roughly 300 centimeters to its height. A fully grown specimen can tower up to 20 meters high. Pale green leaf plates, which are fibrous and dense to the touch, adorn the branches. Flora is a lush sight. White or pale lilac can describe the color of the racemose inflorescences. Only in late autumn do the ripe fruits start to fall from the trees.

Paulownia Kawakami grow in container big leaves

Paulownia Kawakami

The plant is only moderately frost-hardy. It works even when the outside temperature is – 17 degrees. It’s not uncommon for such a tree to grow to a height of 15–20 meters. Leaf plates of the deltoid can range in size from 0.35 to 0.45 m. The broad top is ovoid in profile. Flowers that are very blue but have a luminous yellow center.

Paulownia fortunei young tree grow care

Paulownia fortunei

This Chinese cultivar is known for its thermophilicity and profuse blooms. The maximum height of this plant is between 10 and 12 meters. Several pubescent hairs can be seen on the surface of the broad, pale green leaf plates. Inflorescences typically include a composition of white or cream flowers with a dark center. Grown in both an indoor and outdoor environment.

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Paulownia elongata grow and care

Paulownia elongata

Heights of 10-15 meters are common for trees with wide, dense crowns. The racemose flower clusters are colored a soft lavender. It stands out from the crowd because of its extended bloom time and moderate cold resistance; older trees can handle temperatures as low as minus 17 degrees Fahrenheit, while younger ones may handle temperatures as low as minus 10 degrees.

Paulownia fargesa grow in container

Paulownia fargesa

The trunk of such a massive plant can grow to be as high as 20 meters. There is a thick, spreading crown. Plates of heart-shaped leaves range in size from 30 to 35 cm. Flowers with paniculate inflorescences are typically quite light in color, like cream or yellow. The plant doesn’t need a lot of water, and it can survive in temperatures as high as 48 degrees and as low as minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Where is paulownia used?

Plates of ibrous paulownia leaves can leak a significant amount of oxygen into the atmosphere, making them a valuable resource. Paulownia is able to remove hazardous pollutants from the air, and it does so more effectively than other deciduous trees. Ten acres of vegetation can help keep one thousand tons of dust out of the air and nearly three hundred tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere each year. The extensive root system helps to keep the ground from being washed away or eroded. This plant’s ornamental qualities make it a great choice for use in urban parks, plazas, gardens, and roadways.

Middle-latitude farmers benefit from cultivating the most cold-hardy species and cultivars. They are a great replacement for trees that grow more slowly or are less robust. Paulownia is also commonly utilized in windbreak plantings, which are used to prevent soil erosion across large regions.

Additionally, this plant’s wood is highly prized because of its connection to economically important species. It’s lightweight, anti-microbial, and water-proof. Homogeneous, uniformly dense wood has a uniformly drab yellowish-gray appearance on the surface. Very few decorative touches were made when building her. About 250 kg can be equated to 1 cubic meter of this type of wood. This plant has twice the lightweight of pine while still having superior technical properties. Such wood is tough, won’t split or rot, won’t warp, will hold fasteners, and can be worked with a wide variety of tools.

This type of factory is utilized in the fabrication of sports equipment, ships, and musical instruments. Skis, snowboards, surfboards, and lightweight boat components are all made from this material. Pallets and shipping containers are made from low-quality blanks. Paper, charcoal, cellulose, and bioethanol are all manufactured using it as a raw material. In order to make things like furniture, floors, and finishing panels, manufacturers rely on high-quality wood. There’s a lot of silica and tannins in this wood, and they act as potent antimicrobials. That’s why you’ll often find it in saunas and soaking tubs. An added benefit of using such wood for a finish is its ability to block out noise and keep the temperature within a room consistent.

Plant parts, such as leaves, bark, flowers, and fruit shells, are commonly employed in these industries. There are natural skin care products and hair growth aids on the market that use their extract. It’s also in medicines for rheumatism and skin disorders.

Many sugars and beneficial proteins are found in the plant’s leaf. Therefore, it is superior to other fodder crops like legumes, alfalfa, and other plants in terms of nutritional value.

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How do you prune Paulownia Tree?

When it comes to trees, there are many things you can do to affect their growth and health. One of the most important things you can do is to prune them. A proper pruning method will help your tree reach its full potential and stay healthy throughout its life. Here are 8 tips on how to go about pruning a Paulownia:

  1. Start by measuring your tree’s height and width. Knowing these dimensions will help you determine the best way to prune it. For instance, a large tree might require more than one person to trim it properly, while a small tree might only require one person.
  2. Cut off any dead or diseased branches that are too high up or in close proximity to other branches. This will help prevent your tree from growing too fast and becoming crippled by overgrowth.
  3. Cut off any branches that are too weak and easily bend. This will make the tree more sturdy, preventing it from bending accidentally under heavy loads.
  4. Prune away any branches that are not healthy or have been damaged by insects or diseases.

Do paulownia trees lose their leaves?

Paulownia trees are often seen in parks and gardens, as they are evergreen trees. They typically lose their leaves in the fall, but sometimes they get them back. Some people think that the leaves might be lost because of a virus, but there is no evidence that this is true.

Does paulownia make dogs sick?

The protein content of paulownia is quite high, and it poses no health risks to livestock. Animals like pigs, fowl, sheep, cattle, rabbits, and so on might benefit from eating paulownia leaves and blossoms due to their high nutritional content. From what we can see, no harmful effects manifested themselves.

How long does it take a paulownia to bloom?

Paulownia is a popular tree that can take some time to flower. The tree typically blooms in the summer, but may sometimes take up to 8 months. Once the flowers are released, paulownia can be a beautiful addition to any backyard garden.

Are paulownia trees invasive?

The Paulownia tree is a large and fast-growing hardwood tree that can be invasive in many areas. It can take over small pieces of woodland, or even larger areas of forest, and can be difficult to remove from sites. Although it has been known to grow in many places for centuries, the Paulownia tree is now considered an invasive plant in many parts of the world.

Are paulownia seeds edible?

Generally speaking, there are no negative effects when eating paulownia seeds, but they should only be consumed in small amounts and with caution.

How much is a paulownia tree worth?

Pablo Nelson is the owner of a paulownia tree that he Nursery in the city of San Francisco. He has been growing and selling his trees for over 20 years. During that time, Pablo has learned a thing or two about trees, and how much they can be worth. His paulownia tree is currently valued at $1,500-$2,000.

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