How to Plant Empress Tree Seeds


The Paulownia tomentosa tree, also known as the empress tree or princess tree, forms a dense, 50-foot-tall canopy that can grow in USDA hardiness zones 5B through 9. The tree's ability to thrive in poor soil, including clay and compacted dirt, make some landscapers view it as a weed. A single tree produces approximately 20 million seeds in the fall that sprout readily wherever they land. This makes planting your own empress tree from seed quick and easy.

Step 1

Place the empress tree seeds into any size of a container. Add enough water to cover the seeds. Allow them to soak for six hours to prepare for germination.

Step 2

Pour 1 inch of gravel into a gallon-size planting container while the seeds soak to increase the pot's draining ability.

Step 3

Top off the gravel with commercially prepared potting soil or mix your own potting soil by combining equal parts of garden loam, peat moss or compost, and sand or vermiculite.

Step 4

Place two of the soaked empress tree seeds onto the surface of the soil. There's no need to bury the seeds. This mimics the natural scattering process.

Step 5

Water the soil surface regularly to keep the substrate consistently moist. The seeds typically will germinate within four to five weeks.

Step 6

Reduce watering to once a day after the seeds have germinated. Pluck out all the seedlings except for the one that's tallest and strongest after the seeds have grown to a height of 2 to 3 inches.

Things You'll Need

  • Container
  • Empress tree seeds
  • Gallon-size pot
  • Gravel
  • Potting soil


  • "Growing Trees from Seed: A Practical Guide to Growing Native Trees, Vines and Shrubs"; Henry Kock, et al.; 2008
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service: Paulownia Tomentosa
  • U.S. National Park Service: Princess Tree
  • Fast Growing Trees Nursery: Royal Empress Tree Instructions
Keywords: plant empress tree, empress tree seeds, growing empress tree

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.