Tulip and Hankerchief trees
I have grown a Tulip, a Handkerchief and a Paulownia tree from seed. They are now about 4-5 years old, and are in large pots. I want to know if they should be pruned or left to themselves to grow bigger, and if they can be planted out now, or stay in the pots for a few more years.
What is the best strategy to encourage them to form well shaped trees?
Excellent! I can get them into the ground at the weekend (unless we are snowed in of course). I'll leave pruning until they have settled in for a year. It will be good to use the big pots for something else. Many thanks for that.
If you wish to have an exotic looking foliage plant with huge leaves you can coppice the Paulownia just like a Willow or Dogwood. The leaves are twice the size of uncoppiced trees and look very tropical. The down side is no flowers. Paulownias are fast growing trees [faster than Liriodendron] but only flower if they are in a reasonably sheltered position. Liriodendron prefer areas of Britain with warm summers so the best [and best flowering ] specimens are in S.E England. Davidias are more tolerant of cool summers and you get good specimens in Scotland. lastly Liriodendron can grow very big.
Thank you Invicta2 I have two Paulownia, so the most fun thing to do seems to be to prune the one, and try for a flowering tree with the other. Would it be OK to prune now? The leaves have all dropped for the winter. Maybe if I keep the pruned one in the pot and plant out the tree?
I wonder if the Paulownia has adapted to have these two behaviours as a survival strategy to avoid being killed off by grazing animals? I just had a look at it's details on Wiki, and it says that some relatives were found in North America, fossilised during the Pliocene. There would have been long nosed and large creatures feeding on them. Maybe, when regularly grazed it would have been easier to recover in the form of a leafy shrub? - though that does sound a bit like labelling oneself "supper". I love plants that have various alternative survival strategies.
Not sure about the best time to prune Paulownia, but suggest you do not prune in winter because it is a plant with soft wood and even unpruned young wood can be killed by heavy frost in winter. The best specimens I ever saw were in Leamington Spa and that is north of you, so maybe I am over cautious, but I have seen frost damage where I live in North West England. I wouldn't go for a pot, the coppiced ones have vigorous shoots that get 5ft high in one summer. This is plant needing ample resources. I don't know how palatable the leaves are, Paulownia is a relation of Foxgloves so they might be poisonous.
OK, that sounds doable. I will move the pots into the porch just for the time being (there is a frost tonight) and plant them in the most sheltered "exotics" area of the garden as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, we are well north of L. Spar and quite far north of you, but the right spot in the garden is a sun-trap on the south side, with those long, long summer days, so the plants may be OK for quick seasons of growth. We do have the moderating effect of the gulf stream here, the worst thing is the seasons whisking around so fast and the paucity of daylight in winter.
Thank you also for the heads up about the pruned option growing 5ft high, I didn't realise they were so big! I'd better watch out for the sheep too. They don't go for the Foxgloves, but then those are the devil they have come to know.