||While it is best known for its annuals and perennials, this mostly American genus of some 180 species also includes a few shrubs, vigorous upright plants with stems covered in fine hairs and sticky glands, which may also be present on the leaves. The flowers form in the leaf axils and are short tubes with widely flared throats. The annuals and perennials often have flowers with vividly contrasting color patterns, but this is less common among the shrubs.
||CULTIVATION: In suitably mild climates, the shrubby mimulus are easy to grow provided they are given full sun and a well-drained soil that remains moist through summer. They are quick growing, inclined to become untidy unless routinely pinched back. They tend to be short lived but are readily raised from seed or half-hardened cuttings.
||This is a genus of about 6 species in the figwort family, native to China and Taiwan. The genus was named after Anna Paulowna, daughter of Tzar Paul I of Russia, hence the common names royal paulownia and princess tree. Outside China they are often marketed under the name powton, which is probably a corruption of the Chinese name paotang. All are deciduous trees with handsome leaves that in some species are very large in the juvenile stage, and large panicles of flowers, similar to foxgloves in shape, in spring. Paulownias have been cultivated in China for more than 3,000 years, both for their strong light timber, which is useful for making musical instruments, and for their attractive flowers; the bark, wood, leaves, flowers and fruit all have medicinal uses. They are characterized by their extremely rapid growth rate.
||CULTIVATION: Paulownias do best in a moderately fertile and free-draining soil with adequate summer water. Protection from wind is important, especially in the early stages when the large leaves are easily damaged. Although quite hardy, dormant flower buds, which are carried on the bare branches through winter, can be damaged by late frosts. Young trees are sometimes pruned back to 2 or 3 basal buds in order to induce the vigorous growth of a single trunk, otherwise pruning is restricted to the removal of spent inflorescences, but this may be impractical after a few years. Propagation is from seed, which should be collected from the woody capsules before it is dispersed in autumn, or from root cuttings.