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Paulownia tomentosa expresses rapid growth and can reach 8 feet in two years from seed. This long growth spurt can cause frequent winterkill to tender new growth at the end of the growing season. You will not find this to be a problem if you prune down to where an axillary bud can take over as the single leader....

Photo by Steve Nix

It is important to build a single leader as long as possible and the stem should be clear to the first main branch at 6 feet or higher. This pruning process is especially important if you want to sell the tree for its valuable wood.

Before high wood prices created a worldwide timber market, Paulownias were grown for their explosive foliage by gardeners and horticulturists. By cutting the plant down to within 3 inches of level ground in spring, the resultant shoots produce a rich, luxuriant tropical growth which was admired as an ornamental specimen.


July 1, 2007 at 12:45 pm
(1) debra waddell says:

when is the best time to prune. Can it be done at anytime or better after flowering?

August 10, 2007 at 5:26 pm
(2) Carpenter says:

How can I kill the darn thing? I cut it down, drilled holes and poured a root killer down the holes. Now I have little tree shoots popping up all over the yard !!
My yard is not big enough for this kind of growth.

September 11, 2007 at 10:35 pm
(3) Crown Victoria says:

Pruning should be the early spring directed only to dead wood. Do major cutting after flowering. Sow seeds or root cuttings in the spring. This is a great specimen for the garden lawn or city parks. Give it lots of room!

September 11, 2007 at 10:43 pm
(4) Crown Victoria says:

Princess tree can be controlled using a variety of mechanical and chemical controls. Hand pulling may be effective for young seedlings. Plants should be pulled as soon as they are large enough to grasp. Seedlings are best pulled after a rain when the soil is loose. The entire root must be removed since broken fragments may resprout. Trees can be cut at ground level with power or manual saws. Cutting is most effective when trees have begun to flower to prevent seed production. Because Princess tree spreads by suckering, resprouts are common after cutting. Cutting should be considered an initial control measure that will require either repeated cutting of resprouts or an herbicidal treatment.

Princess tree seedlings and small trees can be controlled by applying a 2% solution of glyphosate (e.g., Roundup®) or triclopyr (e.g., Garlon) and water plus a 0.5% non-ionic surfactant to thoroughly wet all leaves. Use a low pressure and coarse spray pattern to reduce damage from spray drift on non-target species. Glyphosate is a non-selective systemic herbicide that may kill non-target plants that are only partially sprayed. Triclopyr is a selective herbicide for broadleaf species. In areas where desirable grasses are growing , triclopyr can be used with minimal non-target damage.

Girdling is effective on large trees where the use of herbicides is impractical. Using a hatchet, make a cut through the bark encircling the base of the tree, approximately six inches above the ground. Be sure that the cut goes well below the bark. This method will kill the top of the tree but resprouts are common and may require a follow-up treatment with a foliar herbicide.

Cut stump application
The cut stump method, that is applying herbicide to freshly cut stumps, should be considered for individual trees or when desirable plants are nearby that might be impacted by foliar applications. Stump treatments can be used as long as the ground is not frozen. Begin treatments by horizontally cutting stems at or near ground level. Immediately apply a 50% solution of glyphosate or triclopyr and water to the cut stump making sure to cover the outer 20% of the stump. Basal bark applications are effective throughout the year as long as the ground is not frozen. Apply a mixture of 25% triclopyr and 75% horticultural oil to the base of the tree trunk to a height of 12-15 inches from the ground. Thorough wetting is necessary for good control; spray until run-off is noticeable at the ground line.

11 Sept., 2007

September 11, 2007 at 10:44 pm
(5) Crown Victoria says:
November 12, 2007 at 2:13 pm
(6) Phanay says:

I ended up with 5 Royal Empress Trees! They’re still a few inches high and waiting 2B planted. I have a small front & back yard. Can they be planted close together? I am in the 8B area. Thank you

September 24, 2009 at 6:55 pm
(7) Cherrie says:

Can you educate a little about the new tree? We planted ours in April, and one of the two is over 6 feet tall right now. I’ve trimmed off lower leaf growth to create more of a stalk/trunk. But as it looks it is a stalk with large leaves…how do the actuall BRANCHES form? does each leaf stalk eventually produce multiple leaves? I’m confused but enjoying it! And like the other commenter, the locust trees that we replaced to put in these are shooting up little locusts EVERYWHERE there was a root. We just keep plucking and mowing and eventually they will give up, just like the wild rose that took two years of persistence to get rid of.

March 13, 2010 at 1:24 pm
(8) Donna C says:

Hi I would really like to know why my Emrpress/royal paul’s are not flowering all three were planted 3 years ago in May are all doing well growth wise but no Flowers. Very dissaponited .am looking forward to the sweet smells and visual beauty I hear so much about. Thank you for your help DC

April 22, 2011 at 7:01 pm
(9) Martha Carden says:

How do you remove one of the young tree sprouts coming up from the roots. Some are eight inches tall and ready to be removed to plant? Has anyone ever tried to remove one with success? I am thrilled with the “Mother tree” with is over 20 ft tall now. Thank you for your information as it is time to do something! Martha L Carden

August 3, 2012 at 6:24 pm
(10) Paula Hall says:

We also planted one about 15 yrs ago and last year had to take it down. Since then, all these little shoots are popping up. Hubby has been trying to dig up the roots to the new little shoots. This morning, I decided to try and shoot some oven cleaner on the new little trees breaking the ground. Within the hour, the shoot had turned black, krinkled up and I am hoping that this will be the solution to my problem. The hubby has been working so hard but I am hoping that this will be alot easier on him. Only time will tell. One friend told us to sell house and move away and let the new owners deal with the problem.

February 26, 2014 at 1:26 pm
(11) Kay says:

Okay, my tree grew about 7′ the first year, with huge leaves. Thru the winter, it lost all leaves and is now one 7′ stick! Should I cut it back or wait and see if it sprouts any real branche?

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