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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
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Monday - June 22, 2009

From: Colorado Springs, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native. Why are my potted Royal Empress trees dying?
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I have purchased several Royal Empress trees over the past two years. Why won't they grow? Some sprouted leaves and then died while in the pots I planted them in. While others, that are 2 years old won't grow more than a foot the whole year. Help?!*

ANSWER:

We know this is going to seem like a strange answer, but count yourself blessed.  Royal Empress tree, Paulownia tomentosa has far more bad habits than it has endearing attributes.  Above all, we think you should remove your Royal Empress trees and plant something less likely to cause you problems in the future.  Several previous questions and answers to Ask Mr. Smarty Plants deal with the consequences of growing this invasive species:

Invasive, non-native Paulownia

Information about Invasive Paulownia Tree

Dead-appearing Royal Paulownia trees in Manteno, IL

Fast growing, possibly invasive trees for South Carolina

If, after reading of the horrors of owning one of these trees you still want one, you might contact your county's Cooperative Extension Service agent for advice.  Growing trees in pots is tricky, especially in Colorado where the roots are very prone to freezing.  Perhaps that is the issue with your trees.

 

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