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Plant Care 101: Royal Empress Tree

Plant Care 101: Royal Empress Tree

In some states, Royal Empress Trees or Paulownia Trees are commonly thought of as invasive trees. In fact, they’re listed as invasive trees. This can be pretty jarring to hear while shopping for a new tree. However, not all Royal Empress Trees are invasive – there are sterile and non-aggressive varieties. 

Some varieties of Royal Empress Trees can produce up to 20,000,000 seeds per year that get released into the wind and carried far distances away. Once these new trees get started, they can be hard to stop. Especially since they’re very tough and drought tolerant.

Royal Empress Trees can survive in a huge variety of different climates. They also take off and can get 40 to 50 feet tall and 30 to 40 feet wide. And once a Royal Empress Tree spreads and takes over an area, they beat the local competition. This puts them on a lot of invasive trees and do not plant lists!

Noninvasive Royal Empress Trees

However, you don’t have to worry about our Royal Empress Trees spreading because they’re sterile. Our Royal Empress Trees are cloned from sterile tissue culture in a laboratory. This process ensures that a young, new tree will have the same flower color as the parent tree. Plants grown from seed often turn out very differently from their parents.

In the Royal Empress Tree’s case, the grafting process ensures that the new trees are also sterile, so they won’t spread all over. Seeds that grow on sterile trees will still be released in the wind, but they won’t be able to produce new trees.

We often look for varieties of this tree with low rates of spreading and nonaggressive roots. The Paulownia Elongata is a trusted noninvasive variety. The Paulownia Tomentosa is another popular Royal Empress Tree variety carried by many nurseries that’s known to be dominating and invasive.

Root Sprouts

Royal Empress Trees often reproduce with seeds, but they also produce root sprouts. With sterile trees, seeds are nothing to worry about. Root Sprouts can pop up with both sterile and non-sterile trees, but they shouldn’t cause any concern.

Root sprouts, commonly known as water sprouts or suckers, are small growths that grow from the root system of an existing tree near the trunk. In most cases, suckers or root sprouts only grow a few inches away from the base of the existing tree.

Root sprouts will not turn into new trunks or limbs on the existing tree. They spring up like weeds from existing root stocks and steal energy and nutrients from the main trunk of the tree. In some cases, a root sprout can even kill the main trunk of a tree.

If you have a tree that appears dead, it’s best to remove the suckers and cut your tree back. It should recover. The number one way to remove a root sprout is to get a firm grasp on it and pull it upwards out of the ground in a twisting motion, similar to removing weeds.


Again, root sprouts or suckers are nothing to be concerned about. If you spot one on any of your trees ranging from flowering, fruiting, or ever green trees, simply remove them. They stay close to the trunk of an existing tree and won’t spread all over a wide area. Suckers may occur more frequently with trees that have more aggressive root systems.


Now that you know that our Royal Empress Trees are noninvasive and safe to plant, let’s talk about their great benefits. For starters, they grow about 6 to 10 feet a year and reach their mature heights of 40 to 50 feet tall very quickly.

In fact, they’re commonly used for shade trees because their thick canopy blocks the sun and creates a nice, shaded area to sit under. The shade can also provide heat relief for homes and lower AC bills. Furthermore, Royal Empress Trees lose their leaves in the fall, letting sunlight through their branches to preserve warmth. And their flowers provide a sweet spring aroma, similar to jasmines and gardenias, to freshen up yards after winter.

Watering and Fertilizing

The only thing that bothers these trees is too much water. They’re very drought tolerant and like to stay dry. When selecting a planting location for your tree, make sure it won’t sit in a low area of your yard that collects standing water or a lot of runoff. Before you water your Royal Empress Tree, make sure that the soil is dry down about 2 to 3 inches below the soil’s surface.

Fertilizer is a great treat for Royal Empress Trees. They can’t get enough of it. While they don’t require any fertilizer, you can give them a boost with an organic fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen twice a month, from early spring to early fall. Doing this will help your tree spring up even faster.

Plant It and Forget It

Remember, not all companies sell sterile Royal Empress Trees, and they aren’t considered to be invasive in every state. Also, some varieties like the Paulownia Elongata aren’t considered to be invasive. Take these things into consideration before purchasing a new tree. If you’re looking for a tough tree that will take off, the Royal Empress Tree is for you.

Shop for Royal Empress Trees here!

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