Answer: Paulownia tomentosa, the Empress Tree, will flower in your area and should not need winter protection. It's a fast-growing tree to 40' or 50', but don't expect the 10' of growth per year that's sometimes advertised! A more realistic expectation is 2'-3' per year. Empress trees grow best in full sunshine, with summer irrigation. They are not picky about soil and usually do not need feeding. The trees will cast very heavy shade, and have lots of surface roots, so place your tree where it can grow without compromise, and don't plan to garden directly under it. Your trees will flower 5-7 years after they're planted.
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