Hardiness of Royal Empress Tree

arctictropical(Z4)February 20, 2009

Has anyone been able to grow the Royal Empres Tree in zone 4? One nursery/seller claims it will live to -30 F., but I have my doubts.

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lkz5ia

Depends what you want it for, I think it would work alright as dieback perennial at those temperature extremes. Just mulch it in case.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 1:11AM
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l_james(mo5)

I've seen it growing in North Western Kentucky very near the Illinois state line. I've seen none farther north.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 1:13AM
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tnrob

Where is the best place to find one of these? I want to plant one this year but have not been able to find one here in town. Guess I'm gonna have to order one, but I'm a little reluctant to mail order from alot of companies. Anybody got any suggestions?

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 2:47PM
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esh_ga

If 'tnrob' means that you are in Tennessee, please reconsider. This tree is considered invasive in Tennessee. The attached flyer was actually written by an employee of the Great Smoky Mtns Park.

A VERY similar looking tree is southern Catalpa, Catalpa bignonioides

Here is a link that might be useful: Invasive pest Paulownia

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 3:38PM
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dirtslinger2(6)

I was just going to mention that I know of a Catalpa in zone 5, which may actually be 4.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 8:12PM
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arctictropical(Z4)

Everyone, thanks for your comments. I guess I will just try growing them, and see what happens. We do have Catalpa trees growing in the area, so if the hardiness is similar, maybe the Empress Tree will survive.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 11:04PM
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ian_wa(Sequim)

Catalpa is hardier. In 1996 I saw an empress tree at a Chicago Botanic Garden that appeared to have grown somewhat large before freezing to the ground the previous winter. Northern/western Catalpa on the other hand I have seen reach giant size in Sioux Center, Iowa (zone 4... practically in Minnesota).

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 12:59AM
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iforgotitsonevermind(♪☺♫)

Better yet, why would you want an empress tree. They are without question, *the ugliest*, sorriest excuse for a tree. Do not be foold by those 'miracle tree- instant privacy' websites. Empress tree is more like bamboo. Hollow stems and all. Even down here where they are hardy, nobody wants one. They don't look tropical, I assure you. They are just stupid looking.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 10:32AM
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dr_andre_phufufnik(Blsk, Voynovia)

Leon Snyder in his book Trees and Shrubs For Northern Gardens says Empress Tree is not hardy above the soil line. This means you will have something that never flowers with big, stalk-canes and extra-large leaves. And each spring you will have to cut the dead stuff back to the ground. But that's in a mild winter. Most likely it will die completely.

Northern Catalpa is entirely hardy in zone 4.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 1:49PM
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cacau(z5/6 CO)

Denver seems to be at the edge of hardiness for this. I watch about six of them in various locations. One dies back to the ground practically every winter, a few have almost no dieback, others are in between. My best guess is that anything below -10 F. is going to give many of them serious problems and anything below -20 F. will be the end of them. You might get lucky on hardiness with a particular specimen, but if you resolve to try this tree in Z4 give it the most protected location you can find.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 10:04PM
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mudflapper

I once also wanted this tree, but after much research I decided against it. it is at best a bunch of marketing hype, very weedy in several of the warmer places and not much of a tree with a host of problems.
Ken

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 2:28AM
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cheesefood

Wow...thank you all so much. I as just about to push the button on ordering 1-2 of these today. I had wondered why my local nurseries didn't carry it, now I know! I was going to plant it very close to my house, not realizing it was hollow. So you basically just saved me several thousand dollars because the weather we have in the NW Burbs of Chicago includes some SEVERE winds, hail, and tornado like weather.

Looks like I'm going with my backup choices of a pink dogwood or a tall growing lilac. I don't really need the fast-growth, I just want something pretty and fragrant to provide some shade and privacy.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 11:59AM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

If you're looking for the regular Cornus Florida dogwood there a couple new varieties I've been close to buying myself even though I already own 3 others.

Cherokee princess, sunset, stuff like that.

Dogwoods are great. Long lasting flowers, small berries, GREAT fall color. Typically hold a polite size for most all yards.

Good deal avoiding the empress that close to your house. If it were to grow you'd no doubt be removing its branches from holes in your roof.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 8:02PM
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jnubbca(5b)

If you take the time to prune a royal empress tree every year, water it, and fertilize it, and it is protected from high winds...it will end up looking like what you see in the pictures. Those are real trees! However, since most people do not have those resources....there are other good trees to get. You might want a catalpa, some type of redbud tree...but my personal favorite as a substitute is the Northern Magnolia. It has beautiful pink blooms that cover the branches before the leaves come out with a light fragrance, so it will not attract many bees. Plus, since it is magnolia, it will have leaves year round even though they look deciduous. It is hardy to zone 5, perfect!

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_B0_LtEuv5yg/SB97QDkoozI/AAAAAAAABE0/bZPBK_szb40/s320/Northern%2BMagnolia%2B2.jpg

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3302/3471005529_3004ba99c6.jpg?v=0

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 2:03PM
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gardengal48

but my personal favorite as a substitute is the Northern Magnolia. It has beautiful pink blooms that cover the branches before the leaves come out with a light fragrance, so it will not attract many bees. Plus, since it is magnolia, it will have leaves year round even though they look deciduous. It is hardy to zone 5, perfect!

???? OK, I'm confused. Exactly which of the many magnolia species is a "northern" magnolia? And how can it be both deciduous - flowers blooming before the leaves come out - and hold its leaves year round? Inquiring minds want to know!! There are only a couple of species of magnolia that are evergreen or hold their foliage all year and both of them originate from southern climes. Even with magnolias in colder zones, you run the risk of not flowering if the tree gets zapped with a hard early spring frost.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 11:42AM
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