Introduction: Fastest Growing TREE - Empress Tree (Paulownia Shantong) From Seed!

Picture of Fastest Growing TREE - Empress Tree (Paulownia Shantong) From Seed!

- Please inform yourself whether you are allowed to plant this tree in your state. It could possibly be invasive -

Let`s make the world a healthier place.

Trees are the lungs of our planet, but a lot of them are beeing cut down, especially in the rainforest. But we can make a change and grow some on our own. If every person plants out just one single tree, it would have an huge impact.

But as always, we wanted more. A normal tree just does not grow quick enough. So we searched for a faster growing tree with a high CO2 consumption rate and finally we found Paulownia Shantong.

It is a hybrid between Paulownia tomentosa and the white Paulowina. It grows faster than the other varieties, very straight and has a higher tolerance against frost (up to minus 25 degree Celsius).The Tree reaches a height up to 15 m and could be harvested within 10 years with a diameter of 35 cm. It has huge leaves and beautiful flowers.

In this instructable I am going to explain the best way to germinate seeds and how to transplant the seedling

If you like the instructable, don`t forget to subscribe to our channel. Have fun reading =)

Step 1: Materials

Paulownia Shantong seed (it is better to buy a few more seeds, so you are able to transplat just the best growing ones)



A small plastic box

good quality potting soil

A bigger plastic box/ indoor green house

Plastic cups

Dibber (recommended) or a thin pencil

Step 2: Buy Good Quality Seeds

Paulownia Shantong seed is a bit more expensive than other Paulownia because it is a hybrid, but it grows much better and it is worth the very small price difference.

One tree should be worth at least 150 € after 10 years, so do not save money on the wrong side. You want to grow best quality trees.

Step 3: Stratification

This a process of treating seed to simulate a winter.

Take a small plastic box, mix your seed with sand and add a little bit of water to keep the sand – seed mixture moist (3 parts sand, 1 part seed). Than you put this for 3 weeks into the fridge. Temperatures must be between 1°C and 5°C (34°F and 41°F). This cold and moist environment triggers a chemical reaction, which is needed to enable the seed to germinate.

I `ve also tried to germinate some seeds without stratification and without sand and it really worked out with a few seeds. Also I tried to germinate them in a bottle of water, like i saw it on youtube. But the results with stratification and sand were much better!

Step 4: Sowing

Picture of Sowing

After 3 weeks, prepare an indoor greenhouse or a plastic box with the potting soil and moisten it. Sow your seeds on the soil. Paulownia Shantong is a light germinator, so do not put any soil above your seed. Don`t let the substrate dry out and don`t keep it too wet. Temperature must be between 23°C and 27°C (73,4°F and 80,6°F). Germination should occur between 2 and 4 weeks if you do it this way.

Step 5: Transplanting the Seedlings

Picture of Transplanting the Seedlings

As soon as the seedlings look like the ones in the picture above, you can start transplanting them in single pots. I use plastic cups, because they are cheap and easy to handle. Fill the cups with potting soil (you want to mix it with garden soil, because now you need a few more plant nutrients) and water it to moisten your substrate, than carefully dig one seedling out with the help of a dibber and put it in your single pot. Ensure that the roots are covered with soil and act very gently to not harm your seedlings. Now put your seedlings to a little bit colder but bright place or use a grow light. Water them as much as required.

And you have to wait until your seedlings are strong enough to be transplanted outside or to be transplanted into a bigger pot. This may take a while, because young trees are vulnerable to frost and after you `ve put so much effort in growing your seedlings, you don`t want to harm them.

Step 6: Updates

Picture of Updates

We will keep this instructable updated and we will show you, how the empress tree is developing.

We hope you have enjoyed this instructable. If you have any question feel free to ask us. We will answer you as soon as we can.

Check also how to grow tomatoes

or a real giant pumpkin with a few hundred lbs!

To start seeds indoors, you should also have a grow light. Look at this if you want to build cheap and easy ones on your own.

Please do not forget to vote. Thank you for reading and try it on your own =)

Step 7: Update 1

Picture of Update 1

As you can see, the tree is growing extremely fast. Haven`t expected such a fast growth.


ShireenB (author)2016-09-22

Banned in Connecticut. Possibly other states.

bignail1954 (author)2015-11-12

I thought it would have been helpful to give a pic of a mature tree. Other stats would be nice to see if it is worth growing.

bignail1954 (author)2015-11-12

I thought it would have been helpful to give a pic of a mature tree. Other stats would be nice to see if it is worth growing.

bignail1954 (author)2015-11-12

I thought it would have been helpful to give a pic of a mature tree. Other stats would be nice to see if it is worth growing.

enchiladeeda (author)2015-10-29

I am going to try this with some cherry tree seeds I got and was wondering if you think this might work on rose seeds that I ordered.

Let us know how the trees you started are doing. I had 2 paulownias but they died. I would love to get another.

Team Z (author)enchiladeeda2015-11-05

I think cherry tree seeds could work a bit different. it could be necessary to crack the hard shell before you start everything. Unfortunately, I don`t know anything about roses^^

I am going to update this soon =)

Thank you

Gordyh (author)2015-10-25

I tried this with seeds from my local pine tree's. I had great success with them germinating, but lost whole batches to dampening off I think it's called. It's where the seedling starts turning brown at the ground and continues up the seedling till it's dead. How have you avoided this happening for you???

enchiladeeda (author)Gordyh2015-10-29

I have read that if you mix hydrogen peroxide in your watering it will help with the damping or damping off. It adds oxygen to the soil and prevents the fungal growth.

jeanniel1 (author)Gordyh2015-10-25

It's called "damping" or "damping off" and is due to a fungal growth in their systemic system (water up from roots, nutrients down to roots) at the soil line, and can be avoided with some mild antifungal powder (Mycostop used for organic farming and is a naturally created defense against the deadly seedling-killing fungus) sold in nurseries (a real one or online). Fungal growth occurs when there is too much moisture - so good ventilation and allowing the soil to be moist by not constantly wet is also helpful.

Here's a helpful site about prevening damping:

Team Z (author)jeanniel12015-10-26

Very helpfull for us all. Thank you for this!

jeanniel1 (author)jeanniel12015-10-25

Oh, and keep good drainage with the ventilation. Preventing fungal growth is key.

Team Z (author)jeanniel12015-10-26

Yes, this is my opinion,too =)

EmmitS (author)Gordyh2015-10-25

Dampoff is a real bummer, especially when you've paid five dollars for three seeds. I've found that mixing any garden fungicide with the soil will help, but the runoff water is poisonous. Lately I've read that adding cinnamon is helpful. Perhaps because the cinnamon plant comes from very hot and humid areas, so it has a natural fungicide built into the plant.

Team Z (author)Gordyh2015-10-25

Did this happen after or before transplanting the young seedlings? Because when you transplant them, you have to be really carefull. Any damage to the roots could kill them. Also protect them from direct sunlight (sunburn) and keep the soil moist but not too wet, so you make some holes in your planting pot for a better drainage.

Also use good quality potting soil. You really get a lot of crap out there. Maybe mix it with some sand to avoid waterlogging. Also, when the seedlings are out of the earth, place them somewhere colder but it should not be too dark.

Often, it is a combination of a soil with too much nutriets, too much heat and too less sunlight. So the seedlings grow very long but remain very weak and fall over or get lost because of bacteria (too wet and too warm). :-)

pierremaricq (author)2015-10-26

You might want to read this:

Invasive Paulownia (Princess Tree)

Team Z (author)pierremaricq2015-10-26

We have already discussed this topic. Please try to avoid posting the same things again and a again with almost no additional information.

flyingace (author)2015-10-25

It may be worth viewing what the US Dept. of Agriculture has to say about these trees:

dougstrickland (author)flyingace2015-10-26

Wrong species tree. That page references the "Paulownia tomentosa". the genus is correct, just the wrong species.

Team Z (author)flyingace2015-10-25

Thank you for your comment

flyingace (author)Team Z2015-10-25

Thank you for your patience. It must be very frustrating to put the time into making a instructable only to have people reply saying that the instructions should perhaps not be followed. I see you have written several other instructables and I hope that you and your brother will not be dissuaded from writing more.

Team Z (author)flyingace2015-10-25

it is not very frustrating at all. Because you are able to use this method for growing a lot of different tree varieties from seed =) in my opinion, there is not a big problem with this trees in colder world regions. In a hot climate, for example Florida, it might be right to be more cautious.

jeanniel1 (author)2015-10-25

Pawlonia wood was what kimono chests were made of for the Japanese long ago! It's a good light but sturdy wood! Good on you for growing them.

Team Z (author)jeanniel12015-10-26

Thank you:)

ekbillie (author)2015-10-12

I agree with the first comment. Planting non-native species can wreck an ecosystem. Take the Russian Olive and Salt Cedar/Tamarisk trees that were meant to curb erosion in the Rio Grande Valley. They flourished and did help slow erosion but spread like a weed throughought New Mexico choking out native Cottonwoods, Mulberry, Willow, and Aspen. They soak up so much water that natural springs have gone dry, and gulp much of the Rio Grande as well. Land management and state forestry organizations are now trying to rid the river of the invasive trees, but loosing the war. Find your local state parks website for info on flora that belong in your area. There might even be a seedling program that you can join to get free saplings to plant, keeping the area ecosystem healthy, and cleaning the air.

Team Z (author)ekbillie2015-10-13

We are aware of the risks, but empress trees are existing in our country since about 1850 without problems. Also the young seedlings wouldn`t be able survive the first frost here. Furthermore, paulowniae needs a lot of light. I am definately sure, that it would be surpressed in our natural forests, making it unpossible for it to spread out. We also know quite a lot about local flora and are cultivating a forest on our own, so you can be sure, that we would cut down this trees as soon as problems would occur. Maybe we will also try out some poplars (a native fast growing species). Thank you for your comment =) It is always better to be cautious.

jeanniel1 (author)Team Z2015-10-25

If we were cautious all the time, there'd be no progress, nor experimentation. That said, the Pawlonia tree was a Japanese tree, which does get snow in most of the country. It was valued for the wood and the fast growth allowed more of it to be use for furniture wood. Not a hardwood, but it is long-lasting. With knowledge and experience, you will find out more about the tree. Many people would prefer to be couch-philosophers, and lounge-environmentalists, sofa-scientists than to actually be involved in doing something about the environment. I applaud your initiative in moving in SOME direction on your project. Keep up the good though-provoking work, and your open minds.

brendenM1 (author)2015-10-16

I would also recommend caution when raising these trees near your home. Do not allow them to branch near the base. These are fairly soft wooded trees,water can and will gather and rot the tree at the split causing a dangerous hazard for buildings, vehicles and people. We had a 3 story cottonwood fall on our roof a few years back and significant damage to the roof, windows and an upper story room. But they do grow very quickly and provide a lot of shade. Only issue we had aside from it toppling on our house was the air being full of cotton from the seeds once a year.

jeanniel1 (author)brendenM12015-10-25

The general rule of thumb that most people don't seem to follow is to plant trees at LEAST 5' away from any structure, hardscape, or road. The roots are typically found at the surface 6" under the tree canopy, and hence, will be more prone to blocking up pipes, buckling sidewalks, and breaking into foundations, uplifting buildings sometimes. So, planting at least using the distance of the radius of the tree's mature canopy would solve most problems. As a landscape architect, I'm amazed at the locations of trees made based on it's size at the time - typically in a 5-gal container!

kbowman (author)2015-10-25

Ummm. Quick question, if anyone knows. I have a really pretty ornamental grass (Zebragrass specifically) that I'd like to populate. Where exactly and how do you grow from seed? I tried taking the whole tassle at the top assuming the seed would be there and nothing sprouted...

Team Z (author)kbowman2015-10-25

I am no expert with this, but the easiest method to replicate Zebragras is to dig out some roots, to singulate (in early spring) and to plant them were ever you want to. This will work much faster.

wbarrows1 (author)2015-10-25

Interesting to read of this plant described as an invasive species and a weed. My country (Australia) has problems with many invasive species, including the Cane Toad, which apparently was introduced by Bart Simpson. ( And yet Paulowina is grown as plantation timber here! (

Team Z (author)wbarrows12015-10-25

Haha, yes you are right. I think it really depends on where you live. =)

Techtic (author)2015-10-25

Very interesting tree and instructable!

In the past I searched also about this tree and found some helpful studies.

For example:

The technical University Munich created three experimental plots at different forest sites in Bavaria (Großostheim, Landshut, Beuerberg). Both for silvicultural suitability as well as aspects of invasiveness, there are interesting preliminary results after two growing seasons.

None of the Paulownia species or origins could convince as potential alternative forest tree species under field conditions.

I will try it! Thanks!

Team Z (author)Techtic2015-10-25

Thank you for your very interesting and helpfull comment =)

Team Z (author)2015-10-25

We will give away 3 3 month premium memberships to our subscribers in mid november. So make sure to follow =) Thank you for sharing your interesting thoughts.

scarecreaux (author)2015-10-15

I would agree with those urging caution with these trees. They are an invasive species. This tree can propagate from roots and stumps. The roots can become massive over time and can severely damage building foundations. I worked at an office a few years back that was in a single story stand alone building. there was a large room in the rear of the building that developed a "hump" in the floor. When we called a contractor in to fix it we discovered that there were several of these trees growing along the backside of the building. Maintenance personnel, for several years, had just cut the "bushes" down during landscaping. This forced the root system to continue to spread and grow in an effort to preserve itself. The contractor ended up jackhammering out 70% of the floor in this 25'x35' room. Removal of the roots required a CHAINSAW. Some of the roots were 13" in diameter and were brought out in pieces 6' to 8' long!!!

At my home in north Georgia, we had one of these trees in our yard. Locals refer to it as a cottonwood tree in most of the south. It didn't cause much of a nuisance until the city cut it down because the roots were damaging a cable TV junction box at the base along the street. Now my entire front yard is infested with little trees shooting up everywhere. Several shoots are coming up on the opposite side of my concrete drive from where the original tree was. now I have a crack running across my drive.

I am all for protecting the environment and these trees could possibly solve the deforestation problem. HOWEVER, they are like a virus!!!

Gordyh (author)scarecreaux2015-10-25

In years past I killed off these spreading type roots by drilling holes into the pulp wood next to the bark and filling the holes with Round Up. Round Up usually travels through the green part of the plant down into the roots and kills the roots.

Now I use Tordon it's one of the few thing's that will kill Buckthorn. And it's used by the tree clearing crews that clear under the power lines here. Just cut the trunk off at or near ground level and apply the Tordon to the pulp wood within 24 hours of cutting, it travels down to the roots and kills them.

I did have one issue with Tordon, I treated a Hybrid Poplar stump that was in a Lilac hedge and lost about 8 feet of the Lilacs. I don't know if it was from the Tordon in the roots of the Poplar or what washed off the stump in the following rains? The Round Up is supposed to be neutralized with contact with the ground.

By treating the stump you don't have a dead tree standing there, you use less of the product and have a lot more control of what die's than spraying.

Team Z (author)Gordyh2015-10-25

Thank you for your comment.

Canoeswamp (author)2015-10-25

In some places, this tree is considered an invasive species. Check with your county extension agent before planting them in your yard.

Team Z (author)Canoeswamp2015-10-25

Thank you for your comment.

Team Z (author)Team Z2015-10-25

Check also how to grow lovely tomatoes from seed.

lahines (author)2015-10-25

To facilitate transplanting your tree, grow them in a section of PVC pipe with one end taped over with duct tape. Remove the tape and press the plant from the pipe after it has rooted sufficiently and the root system will not be disturbed.

Team Z (author)lahines2015-10-25

Interesting idea. Would be great to see an ible of this with some pictures=)

MustaphaF (author)2015-10-25
"From ornamental to detrimental? The incipient invasion of

Europe by Paulownia tomentosa."

Franz Essl

Preslia 79: 377–389, 2007

Environment Agency,

of Nature Conservation,

Lände 5, 1090 Vienna, Austria,


Team Z (author)MustaphaF2015-10-25

Thank you for your comment.

perriwinkkle (author)2015-10-25

Please ck out these pages. You'll b glad u did. Luv these trees. Good, bad & ugly!

Also luv instructables

skingsmill (author)2015-10-12

I'm very interested in watching this ible be updated. Good job, and what a cool tree!

Team Z (author)skingsmill2015-10-12

Thank you a lot =)

robert51456 (author)Team Z2015-10-25

Interestingly, Paulownia is one of the best woods to make charcoal for making old fashioned gun powder. Many hobbyist fireworks makers produce their own charcoal for making custom black powder (BP). Paulownia is known for making some of the fastest burning or 'hot' BP known.

Another fun fact is that modern gunpowder is not gunpowder or BP at all. It is made from nitrocellulose and nitroglycerin since old fashioned BP produces so much smoke and has so many residues that foul the gun barrel.

I think your instructable is very good and informative. It just sounds like,with any tree, you have to be sure of where it is planted. Weeping willows have some of the same problems when planted too close to structures.

dantistus (author)2015-10-25

Trees are not the lungs of our planet. Trees produce oxygen via photosynthesis during the day, but they do 'aerobic respiration' (which consumes oxygen and produces CO2) during the dark time. Real lungs of our planet are the oceanic algae. Regardless, thank you for the instructible!

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Bio: This channel is used by my brother and me. We like building and learning new things and want to share it with you! I am ... More »
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