Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

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.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

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.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

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.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Freeze damage to non-native Philodendron selloeum in Deltona FL
June 22, 2010 - My philodendrons selloeum died this past winter in the freeze,came back slowly this spring and now are suffering with very small deformed leaves. Some do grow but are getting large brown dry areas on ...
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnets for Shanghai
June 25, 2012 - I am a Texas native that now lives in Shanghai, and I am trying to grow a little piece of home (Texas bluebonnets) indoors, and I was wondering: a. Do you have any ideal soil recipes that bluebonne...
view the full question and answer

Non-native, invasive, poisonous Chinese yam
October 16, 2005 - I found a vine in my yard [central Indiana] which I believe is Dioscorea oppositiflora and I wanted first to confirm my identification and second to find out about edibility [especially of the airborn...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from Woodcreek TX
January 27, 2012 - I would like to attach a photo of a weed in my lawn and have you identify it. How do I send a photo? I have been told it may be ground ivy. Please tell me how to kill it without damaging the lawn.
view the full question and answer

Late blooming Esperanza in St. Augustine FL
April 21, 2011 - I bought an Esperanza at a plant expo- I was told it was a Florida native Allamanda. It took me two years to figure out what I had. Mine grows 8 ft. tall and is huge! But it doesn't bloom until alm...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.