How to Start Empress Tree Seeds


The U.S. Forest Service says the empress tree (Paulownia tomentosa) has a "dramatic" look, thanks to its heart-shaped foliage and purple blossoms. The tree thrives in USDA hardiness zones 5B and higher, where it can achieve a mature height of 50 feet. It all starts with a single empress tree seed, which you can germinate at home if you give it the appropriate growing conditions.

Step 1

Fill a quart-sized container with water. Drop the empress tree seeds into the water.

Step 2

Set the container aside and let the seeds soak for a minimum of six hours. This helps the water penetrate the seed's hard coating to improve germination results.

Step 3

Fill a pot with potting soil. Use a pot with a 20-inch diameter and a depth of 10 inches or more. For optimal germination, use a soilless seed starter mix, available from most garden stores and nurseries.

Step 4

Scatter two or three of the empress tree seeds onto the pot's soil surface. Tap them to gently push them into the soil, but do not bury them completely.

Step 5

Water the soil surface so that the top 2 to 3 inches of dirt is moist. Cover the pot's top with plastic kitchen wrap to trap the moisture inside, and set the pot aside in a warm area that's out of direct sunlight. The seeds will typically germinate within five weeks.

Things You'll Need

  • Container
  • Empress tree seeds
  • Water
  • Pot
  • Soilless seed starter mix
  • Plastic kitchen wrap


  • "Growing Trees from Seed"; Henry Kock, et al.; 2008
  • U.S. Forest Service: Paulownia Tomentosa
  • Fast Growing Trees Nursery: Royal Empress
Keywords: grow royal empress, start empress seeds, start tree seeds

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.