Paulownia is a fast-growing tree that reaches a stupendous size, and its purple flowers that appear in spring are just as amazing.
Paulownia key facts
Botanical names: Paulownia tomentosa, Paulownia imperialis
Common name – Imperial Paulownia
Family – Scrophulariaceae
Type – Shade tree
Bearing – round
Height – up to 60 feet (20 m)
Breadth – 25 to 40 feet (8 to 12 meters)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – any type, well drained
Hardiness – hardy
Paulownia growth rate – fast
Foliage – deciduous
Flowers appear in spring, right before the tree unfurls its leaves. Oval fruits appear not long afterwards. These fruits are what help distinguish paulownia from its “cousin”, Catalpa.
Though it isn’t very picky regarding the type of soil, it does love growing in moist, well-drained and humus-laden soil.
Its most important requirement is exposure: you must give your tree a wide sunny spot for it to grow well.
When to plant?
Planting, for paulownia, should take place in fall if possible, in order to ensure proper settling in. You can consider planting in spring, but you’ll have to water much more often.
How to plant it?
Once you’ve found the right spot, follow these few steps to plant your tree:
- Dig a planting trench that’s pretty large.
- Along the bottom of it, rake some sand, soil mix (or compost) in, and mix it with garden soil.
- If your pot was sold to you in a pot, remove it and delicately tweak the root ball apart. The goal is to spread a few roots out to all sides.
- For a bare-root specimen, root dip will protect them and jump-start their growth.
- Position the tree in the hole, and hammer a stake in near the trunk, but without driving it through any roots.
- Backfill the planting hole, ridging some soil up in a donut to form a watering bowl. Press the soil down well.
- Water abundantly to ensure roots and soil mingle together well.
- Tether your paulownia to the stake with a special staking collar, tied in a figure-8 knot (the center knot being between the tree trunk and the stake).
- Supply a generous layer of mulch all around the tree to lock moisture into the soil.
There isn’t much care that you have to give the tree:
- During the first few years of growth, add water during drought, as soon as the leaves start wilting.
- In case of deep freezing, protect young saplings from the cold with winterizing fleece.
- Regularly increase the amount of mulch, since it tends to break down over time.
- structural pruning during the first years of growth;
- eliminating dead, broken, or dangerous branches;
- triggering growth of leaves that are even more impressive, since they reappear larger after a hard pruning.
Diseases and pests:
Resistant and vigorous, paulownia is vulnerable neither to disease, nor to pests.
Uses of the paulownia tree
The blazing-fast growth and size of the Paulownia tomentosa tree means it’s used mostly in large gardens and parks, either as a standalone or to form large rows.