If you want to plant a fast-growing tree that will make shade before your kids are in high school, empress tree (Paulownia tomentosa) is the hands-down winner as the world's fastest growing shade tree for temperate climates. The lovely empress tree can grow 40 feet tall and wide in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 8. Empress tree produces long stalks of purple flowers on bare branches in spring and is easily propagated from seed.
Fill a seed tray with sphagnum moss and water the moss until it is thoroughly moist.
Mix empress tree seeds with sand in a small bucket. They are tiny and mixing them with sand helps you spread them evenly in the seed tray. Use about 1/2 cup of sand for 2 ounces of seed. This mixture is enough to fill one seed tray.
Sprinkle the sand mixture evenly over the surface of the tray. Do not cover the seeds -- they need light to germinate.
Place the seed tray in a warm spot where it will receive direct sun for at least six hours each day. For best germination rates, the temperature should remain between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, day and night.
Mist the surface of the sphagnum moss every day.