Originally this tree came from China. It is a softwood, it does not warp, twist, shrink or goes bad, insects don't care for it, and as far as I know, there are no diseases chasing it.
There are about 18 different paulownia varieties or clones, they all look alike but do different things. There are several conditions that appear in every one of the paulownias: They are softwoods. They will resprout when the tree is cut. Every branch, even the main trunk are hollow. I have a tree here that I cut down, it was about 60 ft. tall. The tree at the base was about 30 inches in diameter and there is a 1/2" hole right in the middle of it. Most of these trees grow fast. Their leaves the first year can be very large, about 35" in diameter. Later in life the leaves are about 10-12 inches in diameter.
Paulownia Tormentosa is the most common of the paulownias, it grows to about 70 ft. and lives to be about 40 years old.
Paulownia Elongata is by far the tree that lives the longest, about 100 years and it may reach 100 ft. in height.
Paulownia Kawakamee, this one is a decorative tree, it grows to 35 ft., it has been used in front yards as a conversation piece.
Paulownia Shantong, the fastest growing!br> Paulownia Tormentosa x Fortunei (hybrid)
Paulownia Elongata x Tormentosa (hybrid) or 9502 - Very fast growing.
Yes, there are more but I have not yet included any more information due to the fact that it may be wrong
Many of these trees have alternate names which makes identifying them difficult, specially when everyone wants to call any paulownia The Empress Tree. As far as I know the only Empress tree is the Paulownia Elongata.
The stem in this tree is very fragile. If you do snap it, just plant the root, it will have a new top within 2 weeks. This is not a tree that you plant and forget. All Paulownia trees enjoy full sun. Dig a hole 16x16 and 2 ft. deep. Fill it with good soil, tamp, to make it level, mulch, water it, and then you can plant your tree in the middle of it. Put some Osmocote a few inches from the trunk of the tree. Mulch the tree 6" deep around the trunk but not touching the trunk. The purpose of the mulch is only to keep moisture from evaporating.
Over the next year you should water it every week or more often if it does not rain. It does not like to be in a soaking wet situation but it should not be allowed to be completely dry either. By the end of fall feed it by adding the equivalent of 1 lb of 10-10-10 fertilizer, (or 3 osmocote doses) and repeat the treatment 3 months later.
This tree will grow from 10-20 ft. each year.. It will flower in the third year, sometimes on the second year. If you cut it down, it will regenerate from the stump.
If you want this tree to be very straight and without any blemishes, remove any branches as the tree grows. It is fine to leave the leaves, they will leave no knots. The tree is deciduous and all the leaves will drop in the fall. New leaves will grow back in the spring. There is no need to dispose of the dead leaves, they will biodegrade.
Feed it every year as indicated above.