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  • Cold Hardy Empress Tree Video
  • Cold Hardy Empress Tree for Sale

    Cold Hardy Empress Tree for Sale

    Cold Hardy Empress Tree for Sale

    Cold Hardy Empress Tree for Sale

    Cold Hardy Empress Tree for Sale

    Cold Hardy Empress Tree for Sale

*images shown are of mature plants

Cold Hardy Empress Tree

Paulownia tomentosa

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Growing Zones: 4-7
(hardy down to -20℉)

Growing Zones 4-7
You are in Growing Zone: 6

Mature Height:

40-50 ft.

Mature Width:

30-40 ft.



Growth Rate:


Botanical Name:

Paulownia tomentosa

Does Not Ship To:


Don't Buy Bare-Root Trees (learn why below)

World's Fastest Growing Tree

I wouldn't have believed it, had I not seen my father-in-law plant the Empress Tree months earlier.

My in-laws are farmers and definitely know what they're doing, but I still had to grow one in my yard.

We had a spot where I wanted to block the afternoon sun and provide a little privacy between us and our neighbor.

I planted our Royal Empress Tree late in the season, so I knew it wouldn't grow much before going dormant. Still, it reached about 6 feet.

My Father-in-law wasn't impressed. He said 'cut it down and you'll really see a show'. 'But I'll lose all this growth', I replied. 'No you won't' he said, 'you'll get it back in a few weeks, just watch'. He took a saw and cut it flat to the ground.

He was right. This tree is indestructible! It shot out of the ground in spring and grew 15 feet that year, then reached 25 feet the next year. It was like watching Jack and the Beanstalk.

You could measure its growth daily. My 6 year-old was out there almost every day staring at it. Two of my neighbors thought it was so beautiful, they each planted an Empress Tree of their own. I've even had professional landscapers stop and ask me where they can find them.

It's an entertaining tree year-round. In the winter, its branches are covered with furry, pea sized buds, just waiting to burst into huge flowers. At the first sign of spring, the tree explodes with purple blooms. Cars slow down to look at it. The fragrance is incredible... it's like a cross between gardenia and jasmine.

When summer comes, the tree forms a dense canopy that can drastically cut your power bills. The leaves are huge, measuring about a foot wide. They're almost tropical looking. When they drop in the fall, it's an easy clean up... not like my Oaks that scatter tens of thousands of tiny leaves.

Plus, bigger leaves mean fewer branches, so you get more sunlight and natural heat coming through in the winter when you need it most.

You can also feel good that you're planting one of the most environmentally beneficial trees in the world. Your Empress Tree will have large leaves that act as giant air filters, pulling pollution out of the air at a remarkable rate, turning it into wood, then releasing high amounts of beneficial oxygen.

This year's Empress Trees are in short supply. Recent publicity and recommendations from TV shows like Oprah have fueled demand.

Just beware that not all Empress Trees are the same. Some nurseries use wild seed that doesn't grow as quickly and can be invasive. Others use growth inhibitors to keep their trees smaller for shipping. This can stay in the tree for several months, giving you disappointing results.

Fast Growing Trees Nursery uses proven stock that's non-invasive, faster growing, and hardier... your tree arrives ready for explosive growth.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 / 5.0
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5 Stars
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1 Star
My tree grows in michigan
We bought our tree here nearly 10 years ago. It would make it through the fall but winter killed. No problem! We cut it down each spring and a new tree was up and running in weeks.

After 7 years of cutting it down, it lasted 3 years before winter
killing. It was beautiful, but we had 20-30 below wind chills alternating with temps in the 60s. So here we are 10 years
in with the brand new sprout of less than 6 weeks already 8 feet tall. Everyone stops and asks us what this beautiful tree

Fair warning though, after they have been chopped down a few times, they send up countless little ones everywhere along the roots. We simply mow them down or pinch them off, but
if you want multiple trees, just let the ones you want grow.

We actually let 2 sprouts grow this time for an even thicker shade by our slider. These trees are fun and every year is a new adventure!

We have had huge clusters of flower buds but they do not make it through the winter. It's still an amazing tree!
July 31, 2018
Growing Zone:
A lot of fun to watch grow
I go out once a week to measure the tree and see how much bigger he is and also take pictures so I can show him to my friend. This being the first year and not done yet he has grown to over 8' tall and is just about 8' wide at the bottom.
August 25, 2016
Valley Center, KS
Growing Zone:

Planting & Care

It's Easy to Plant & Care for Your Cold Hardy Empress Tree

Cold Hardy Empress Tree Planting Diretions

The Cold Hardy Royal Empress Tree (Paulownia elongata) is a FAST growing, decorative, shade producing tree. In addition to being beautiful, the Empress Tree is one of the most environmentally beneficial trees on Earth. It’s incredibly efficient at absorbing carbon dioxide (greenhouse gases) and releasing large amounts of oxygen into the air thanks to its large, fan-like leaves. After being established for a couple years, it will start to produce lovely purple-white flowers in the spring similar to orchids but much larger.

They do best when planted in USDA growing zones 4-7 and once situated in their new home, grow like bamboo in comparison to how tall they get at such a rapid pace. Empresses can mature to a height of 40-50 feet and a mature width of about 30-40 feet wide. Our Empress has been treated to ensure that it will be non-invasive and not tear up your landscaping but we do not recommend planting them next to foundations, sidewalks, septic/water/power or driveways. For a fast growing shade, oxygen producer or decorative blooming tree, the Royal Empress cannot be matched!

Selecting a location: Empress trees are nearly indestructible once they have become established but do require some care in their early stages of growth. Full sun is best for its exposure and well draining soil is existential to the health of the tree.

Planting Directions: Plant your tree after the last frost or when surrounding plants begin to bud out. For best results, mix in potting soil or soil conditioner, especially if planting in clay or poor soil.

1) Make your hole twice as wide and just as deep as the root ball.
2) Carefully remove the Empress tree from its container tapping on the sides to help free up any clinging roots or soil.
3) Place the tree in the hole and spread the roots out evenly. You’ll want to plant your tree so that the “root collar” is level with the ground (see Fig. 2) The “root collar” is the height where the roots effectively become the stem of the tree. It is commonly seen as a line that is lighter bark on top, darker roots on bottom. This is the line where the soil initially came to when your seedling was grown.
4) Keep the tree straight as you begin to backfill the hole, tamping down lightly as you fill to prevent any air pockets from forming in the soil.
5) Water the area to moisten/settle the soil and then broadcast a good layer of mulch to preserve soil moisture and keep weeds and grasses back.

Watering: DO NOT OVER WATER your Empress Tree. When the top 2 to 3 inches of the soil is dry, add water. Do not allow soil to stay soggy as Empress trees will not tolerate over watering in the slightest. As a rule, let the soil surrounding the tree dry out before watering. If your tree is wet upon arrival, skip the initial watering for two days. Drooping branches and shriveled, brown leaves are signs of both under and over watering. If under-watered, the leaves will become dry and brittle. If over-watered, the leaves will become yellow to black and begin to shrink. They will be soft, not brittle. If this happens, stop watering your tree until it revives. If too much damage has been done, it will grow a new trunk from the base and grow a new tree.

Fertilizer: Empress Trees love organic fertilizer high in nitrogen, in fact they LOVE it. You can use Miracle Gro or a balanced tree fertilizer. Just be sure the 1st of the three numbers on your organic fertilizer is higher than the others indicating an extra boost of nitrogen (Example: 20-10-10). You can fertilize twice a month in the growing season. Stop fertilizing before the tree goes back into dormancy. Additional fertilizing should only be done after the first year. Take care not to go overboard with fertilizing in the beginning of spring or you may inhibit the blooms from forming.

Spring Pruning: Let your tree grow for one entire year. If your empress tree did not grow at least 4 feet before winter dormancy, we recommend that you cut it to the ground at the very start of spring (a process called "coppicing"). This may seem odd, but it will grow a bunch of small sprouts. Select the “alpha” of the bunch and pinch the others off. This will focus all of the nutrients into that one growth and become a very straight, beautiful tree. Your tree(s) will more than make up for the lost growth in the first few weeks. We have seen some Empress Trees grow as many as 20 feet in the first year after being cut back to the ground. Don’t worry about being exact. This process (coppicing) can be done any time of year, though we recommend spring.

Branch Pruning: Large leaves grow in pairs up the tree (one on each side). Every few inches up the tree, you will see a new set. These should be left on the tree to maximize photosynthesis. These leaves will fall off later. Above each leaf on the tree’s stem, you will see a little bud growing. This is referred to as a “sucker.” It is a permanent branch trying to grow. Pinch these off until you get to the height where you want your first branches to grow. The higher you let your branches start, the higher your clearance will be under the branches (see Fig. 3)

Winter Dormancy: During late fall and winter, your tree will go dormant. The leaves will fall off and the stem will turn brown. Nothing will be happening above ground, but the roots will continue to grow below, especially during nice days. This winter root growth will help accelerate growth when spring comes.

Deer: The Royal Empress Tree is not a desired food for deer. However, if nothing more appetizing is available, they have been known to eat the growth bud at the top of the stem. If you think this may be a problem, you may want to consider caging your trees as this is the guaranteed answer to deer problems.

      figure 1                                         figure 2                                  figure 3

Fun Facts:
*Empress wood is the second most valuable wood grown in the US, behind only Cherry.
*Throughout the Orient, the Empress tree is planted at the birth of a daughter. When she marries, the tree is cut down and used to build a wedding chest and gifts.
*Ancient lore has it that the legendary Phoenix flew across the Orient and would only land on Empress Trees – bringing good fortune to the nearby household.
*Empress lumber is farmed on plantations rather than taken from old growth forests. It thrives on marginal or even toxic soil.
*Empress roots go down as far as 40 feet which helps to regulate the water table as well as remove soil salinity and ground pollutants. Empress trees are also used to clean toxic soil and absorb animal waste.
*Giant leaves drop each winter, releasing nitrogen and increasing soil fertility.
In the orient, Empress trees are planted between row crops and have improved yields by as much as 30%.
*Your cloned tree is non-invasive; its seeds are virtually sterile.
*Empress trees save forests by producing sawn timber in 7-12 years and growing 2-4 times more lumber than most other commercial trees in the same time period. This is vital as the supply of exotic and hardwood trees rapidly diminishes.
*After being harvested, a new Empress tree grows back from the stump and uses the same well-established root system. This saves post-harvest clearing costs, land erosion and runoff. The same stump can re-grow 7-10 full sized trees.
*The technology that created your Super Tree is the result of a major international research project that planted millions of Empress trees throughout China, India, and the Philippians.

Planting & Care

Questions & Answers

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Browse 17 questions Browse 17 questions and 17 answers
Hello, do you know how the Cold Hardy Empress tree tolerate windy sites?
Corinne B on Mar 16, 2017
BEST ANSWER: Hi. It has been a snowy, windy winter and it's out in the open with tree supports. It seems ok. Hopefully will see some changes this spring.
what about pruning royal empress trees?
Elizabeth K on Aug 3, 2016
BEST ANSWER: Your tree will need 2 to 3 years to become firmly established in your lawn or garden. After this period, you may begin to prune your tree if desired, although it is not required.
This is the first year for my empress tree and I have some branches that started lower than I want them is it ok for me to cut them back or do I leave them alone it is 10' wide at the bottom but the branches are only about 2 feet off the ground?
SHANE N on Sep 27, 2016
BEST ANSWER: From what I understand you can cut this tree down to the ground and it will come back stronger. This also tells me that it is hardy enough to handle pruning and shaping the way you need it. I just purchased mine so I don't have this issue yet, however I do not plan on babying it. Trim what you want, my research says you are fine.
Hi, I just found this site. Interested in trees for Arizona property...but I notice it says "does not ship to Arizona." Why?
Miranda M on Sep 4, 2016
BEST ANSWER: Agricultural restrictions prohibits us from shipping it into your state.
will this tree grow in northern ohio?
beth w on Feb 2, 2017
BEST ANSWER: The growing zones are 4-7. Click the link to look up what growing zone you are in.
Is this tree good for people with allergies?
Betty H on Sep 18, 2016
BEST ANSWER: My husband as asthma and allergies and he has had no issue thus far with our tree. Hope this helps.
can this tree be planted in a somewhat shaded area?
Dave M on Aug 5, 2018
BEST ANSWER: Not sure. Mine is in total sunshine all day and thrived greatly
I have a cold Hardy express tree and I live in jeresy can I keep the trer indoors for the winter. To get some extra growth this winter?
Michael on Aug 24, 2018
BEST ANSWER: I live in Kansas City, KS and have a cold hardy empress. The growth this summer is as advertised and am very happy with the current size. I planted the tree in November 2017 so will know better about yearly growth spring 2019. As for increased growth with inside during winter I have no experience but wouldn’t expect it to greatly increase do to normal dormant seasons for trees in general. Hope this is some help.
I''m in north-east oklahoma its been warm up in till mid Oct. - my royal tree has oval shape ?(pods?) is that fruit? I Never new the tree gives fruit. I love my tree an wanting another but do you sell Royal trees with purple blooms?mine will be the light pinkish
Gerri P on Oct 20, 2016
BEST ANSWER: OK PODS are flowers, they started to bloom then we got a freeze. I planted mine May an it was 2 ft. its now over 5 feet tall. Awesome tree, I'll be getting another tree this coming spring., my neighbor has 3. They do grow well in my yard that is mostly rock an clay.
When is the best time to plant the royal empress trees?
Kathryn L on Sep 21, 2016
BEST ANSWER: Planted ours this past August, looks ok so far but really won't know till next spring if it worked.
How far do the roots spread out from the tree. I have a leach field. How far from the house should they be planted?
bonnie d on Sep 9, 2018
BEST ANSWER: A 6” diameter tree can have roots reaching 19’ in good soil. But they might not plug your septic. Good luck!
Will the empress tree grow in sandy soil? Minnesota's Anoka Sand Plain?
Robert B on Apr 18, 2017
BEST ANSWER: Yes it can grow in sandy soil in zones 4 to 7 and is cold hardy down to -10 degrees F.
I am in zone 6, I understand shipping dates, but will the empress tree thrive in my zone?
Johanna S on Feb 15, 2017
BEST ANSWER: The growing zones for the Cold hardy Empress tree are 4-7. A growing zone 6 is within the recommended growing zones.
I’m looking to order one of these trees. Since it’s almost November, is it too late to plant in MInnesota?
Dean P on Oct 25, 2018
I’ve been wanting to purchase one of these trees all year, and I haven’t seen them for sale. When are they in season?
Greg N on Sep 6, 2018
will it grow at 5-7,000 feet elevation? zone 4-6
Monica on Sep 3, 2018
I live in NJ and I want to know if I can I keep this tree indoors during the winter months to get extra growth this year?
Michael on Aug 27, 2018

Shipping Details

Most items ship the next business day unless otherwise noted

Estimated Shipping Time: Most orders ship immediately, however some orders may ship in 1-2 business days (we do not ship on the weekends) from date of purchase. As noted on the website, some items are seasonal, and may only ship in spring or fall. Once your order is shipped, you'll receive an email with a tracking number.

Shipping Alert:

You can still order, but due to cold weather, we have delayed shipping to the areas shaded on the map below. We want your new plant to thrive right out of the box, so we will wait on shipping your order until the weather is ideal. This includes anyone in Growing Zones 3 or 4. If you are unsure of your growing zone, visit our Growing Zone Finder.

We will resume normal shipping in the Spring. Please see the table below for your approximate ship date.

Zone Map


Shipping Resumes

Zones 3 & 4

Week of Apr 29th

Zones 5-11

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