Plants & Flowers

Common name: Glory Bush, Lasiandra, Princess Flower, Pleroma, Purple Glory Tree

Family: Melastomataceae

Synonymous: Tibouchina maudhiana
Tibouchina semidecandra
Lasiandra semidecandra

Distribution and habitat: Tibouchina urvilleana are evergreen plants from the tropical rainforest in southern Brazil. They are widely cultivated in warm regions for its soft foliage and showy purple flowers.
The Tibouchina urvilleana grows as a large, woody shrub or tree up to 3m (10 feet) height and it is a truly spectacular plant when in full bloom, bearing magnificent, saucer-shaped purple flowers with an iridescent sheen which are set off to perfection by the velvety foliage.
Tibouchina urvilleana can become invasive species in tropical and subtropical environments outside of their cultivation range. All Tibouchina species are considered noxious weeds in Hawaii.

Description: Tibouchina urvilleana is a shrub that grows up to a metre (3 feet) as so tall indoors. Its four-angled stems and branches are soft, green and covered with fine, reddish hairs when young. Later the stems turn woody and brown. The velvety, pointed-oval, paired leaves are medium to deep green with prominent, pale green, lengthwise veins and finely toothed edges. Each leaf is 5-10cm (2-4 inch) long and 2-3cm (0.8-1 inch) wide.
The striking saucer-shaped, five-petaled flowers are rosy purple to violet colour with a cluster of protruding purple stamens in the centre. Each flower is about 8cm (3 inch) across. The flowers are produced in clusters at branch tips from mid-summer to early winter.

Proper care: Tibouchina urvilleana is grown as indoor plants but require some special conditions and are unlikely to thrives without them. It has a fairly narrow margin for error: leaf drop and plant decline are unfortunately common, most often because of watering or temperature issues.
It is a fast growing shrub. Shorten main shoots by half their length and cut side-shoots back to two pairs of leaves each spring. In this way the leggy growing habit of Tibouchina urvilleana is kept under control and will enhance the flower display.

Light: Give Tibouchina urvilleana bright filtered light from early spring to mid-autumn. During the short-day months keep plants where they can get about four hours a day of direct sunlight.

Temperature: During the active growth period normal room temperature are suitable. During the midwinter rest temperature of about 10°C (50°F) are best. It is a good idea to stand actively growing Tibouchina urvilleana on trays or saucers of damp pebbles to increase the humidity around the plant.

Watering: During the active growth period water plentifully as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist, but never allow pots to stand in water. During the rest period give only enough to make the mixture barely moist throughout.

Feeding: Apply to Tibouchina urvilleana plants standard liquid fertiliser about every two weeks during the active growth period.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Move plants into larger pots every spring until maximum convenient size is reached. Thereafter, top-dress annually with fresh mixture.

Gardening: Tibouchina urvilleana thrive in moist, humid, tropical, subtropical and warmly temperate regions. Out of its hardiness zone, the plant grows as a large, woody shrub which is best kept in a conservatory, sunroom or heated greenhouse. It will tolerate light to moderate frost if they are planted in a very warm, protected part of the garden, the plat is covered in winter and the roots thickly mulched. If the plant is cut right back by frost it will usually grow back from the roots in spring.
Their growth habit tends to become somewhat leggy if the plants are not frequently trimmed to keep them bushy; and because they bloom on new growth, trimming immediately after flowering will encourage more new growth and consequently more flowers. They do however have a remarkable ability to re-grow from ground level after being snapped off, and consequently respond well to hard pruning.

Position: Tibouchina urvilleana love full sun, but too much harsh sunlight can also be a problem; in a very hot or dry region plant these shrubs in a sunny location which is semi-shaded during the hottest part of the day.
These plants are brittle and prone to breaking in the wind, so plant them in a sheltered position in the garden.

Soil: Tibouchina urvilleana prefer slightly acidic soils with a good amount of organic matter and good drainage, but will adapt to most well-drained garden soils: from very acid to slightly alkaline. Tibouchinas will not thrive in soils that are too alkaline and will show signs of burn around the leaf margins and yellowing between the leaf veins. They are adapted to chalk, clay loam, loam, loamy sand, sandy clay loam and sandy loam soils; but if the soil is less than ideal, dig lots of acid compost into the planting hole and mulch the roots often.
These plants can sometimes be difficult to establish, and after planting, they may seem to lack the growth for a season or two, but once they are fully settled they will suddenly became fast growers.

Irrigation: Water regularly during dry spells to prevent the plant from drying out, but do not keep the soil saturated or root rot can result.

Fertilisation: Feed regularly with a balanced organic fertiliser to encourage new bud formation.

Propagation: Take stem or tip cuttings 8-10cm (3-4 inch) long in spring. Trim each cutting to just below a pair of leaves, remove the bottom leaves and dip the cut end of cutting in hormone rooting powder. Plant the cutting in an 8cm (3 inch) pot filled with a moistened equal parts of peat moss and coarse sand or perlite. Enclose the whole in a plastic bag or propagating case and stand it in a warm room in bright filtered light.
When new growth appears, uncover it and begin to water it moderately. After a further eight weeks, move the young plant into a 10cm (4 inch) pot of standard potting mixture and treat it as a mature specimen.
Tibouchina urvilleana can also be propagated by seed. Sow seeds in spring using a mixture of three parts soil-based compost and one part gritty sand. Do not cover the seeds. Place the pot or tray in indirect light at about 21°C (70°F) until the seeds start to germinate. Pot on when the seedlings are large enough to handle.

Problem: Tibouchina urvilleana are susceptible to gray mold, mushroom root rot, leaf spots, root rot of seedlings, spider mites and nematodes. If exposed to cold drafts or strong sunlight, expect the plant to start dropping leaves.

Mushroom root-rot can occur if drainage is bad or the plants are over watered.
Treatment: There are no effective chemicals to control the disease.

If there is not sufficient air circulation, leaf spots and spider mites can be problematic.

Leaves turn yellow and drop in winter if the plant is overwatered.
Treatment: Allow to dry out and water less in future.

Leaves turn brown and dry during the summer when the growth environment are too dry.
Treatment: Increase water and humidity levels and move out of the sun.

Yellow stippling on the leaves is due to red spider mites (which look like tiny red dots) on the undersides.
Treatment: Spray with a suitable insecticide and raise the humidity by standing the pot on a saucer of moist pebbles.

Mealy bugs look like small blobs of fluffy white cotton.
Treatment: Remove them with a cotton swab dipped in diluted methylated spirit. Use a suitable insecticide for severe attacks.

Companion plants: Border companions for Tibouchina urvilleana blooming shrub include the Pink Bower Vine (Pandorea jasminoides ‘Rosea’) to scramble over a nearby arbor, Dwarf New Zealand Tea Tree (Leptospermum scoparium ‘Nanum Ruru’) with its tight growth and pink flowers and Oleander (Nerium oleander).

Uses and display: Tibouchina urvilleana growth habit is somewhat weedy, requiring training and pruning to develop and maintain it as a tree. It can be trained as a standard or espaliered against a west-facing wall receiving at least five hours of full sun. It can also be trained on a trellis or arbor as a vine. Pinching new growth helps increase branching and will enhance the flower display. It is a nice addition to contemporary, cottage or tropical gardens. This plant will attract butterflies into the garden.
Plant it near outdoor living areas where its flowers can be closely enjoyed. The handsome foliage adds texture and interest to shrub borders and foundation plantings and delivers splashes of color that grab the attention of all who come near.
The spectacular Tibouchina urvilleana flowers are used as cutting for bouquets.
Also, Tibouchina urvilleana are suitable for container accent, being favored by modern designers for its pubescent foliage and intense color. Large specimens can be trained on a trellis or against the wall of a conservatory.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – upright
Height indoor: 1m (3 feet)
Height outdoor: 3m (10 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 7°C max 13°C (45-55°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 9a-11

Flowers Lady Cutting Flowers, Evergreen, Flowering Plants, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Shrubs Glory Bush, Lasiandra, Lasiandra semidecandra, Pleroma, Princess Flower, Purple Glory Tree, Tibouchina maudhiana, Tibouchina semidecandra, Tibouchina urvilleana

Information About Princess Flowers: Growing Princess Flower In The Garden

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The princess flower plant, also known as lasiandra and purple glory bush, is an exotic shrub sometimes reaching the size of a small tree. When growing princess flower shrubs in the landscape, you’ll find they quickly reach a height of 7 feet and higher and may reach a spread just as wide. Care of princess flower is easy and uncomplicated.

About Princess Flowers

Large purple flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies to the garden all season long bloom in abundance from May through freezing weather. Botanically called Tibouchina urvilleana, blooms will appear throughout the year on the princess flower plant, with heaviest flowering from late spring and on into winter in tropical areas.

Hardy in USDA Zones 9-11, allow plenty of room when planting princess flower. If you’re already growing princess flower and find it is becoming overcrowded, pruning is appropriate. In fact, heavy pruning as part of the care of princess flower does not deter the abundant blooms of this plant. Prune in early spring to control growth. Otherwise, trim the plant as needed to keep it tidy.

Princess flower bushes that are not pruned usually develop a rounded form with age, but may take on a sprawling habit if pruned once and then not maintained. One note of caution: the plant spreads by suckers and can be rambunctious. It has escaped cultivation in Hawaii and is considered a noxious weed. If this is a concern, containers are a good option for preventing spread. Additionally, as the multiple stems are thin and vine-like, princess flower bush is a good candidate for a trellis.

Planting Princess Flower Bush

When you’re planning to grow princess flower in your landscape, choose a spot where it will be appreciated for yearly evergreen foliage and an attractive, upright habit. Site the plant in moist, well-drained soil that has been amended with manure, compost or other organic material. Plant the princess flower bush in a full to partially sunny location. In the hottest areas, this specimen prefers afternoon shade.

The princess flower plant needs regular watering to keep the soil evenly moist, particularly during hot spells in summer, but don’t allow the soil to become soggy. Although princess flower is relatively drought-tolerant, it will bloom better with sufficient moisture.

Fertilize every spring with a product formulated for azalea, rhododendronand other acid-loving plants. Reapply fertilizer in summer and autumn.

Remove blooms as soon as they wilt to encourage continued blooming.

Spread a little manure or compost around the plant every spring, as the plant thrives in rich soil. Also, mulch the area heavily to retain moisture, control weeds, and keep the roots cool.

Tibouchina is relatively pest-resistant, but watch for mealybugs and aphids. Both are easy to control with insecticidal soap spray.

Those living in Zone 8 may grow the princess flower plant, but expect the shrub to die back if freezing temperatures occur in winter. The princess flower bush usually recovers the following season to produce more of the brilliantly colored purple blooms. That said, Tibouchina is well suited for containers, so this is a good solution if you live in a cold climate; just bring the plant indoors before temperatures drop in autumn.

Princess flower bushes are easily multiplied from cuttings that can be overwintered in a greenhouse, or even indoors as a houseplant. In fact, don’t be surprised to see a few purple blooms on the princess flower plant indoors when it is happily located in a sunny window.

How to Care for a Tibouchina Plant

Tibouchina urvilleana is in the Melastomataceae family, and is native to Brazil. It is also known as purple glory bush or princess flower, and received its name from the stunning flowers it produces when in bloom. Caring for the hardy tibouchina is relatively easy in the subtropical and tropical regions of the United States. Healthy tibouchina plants provide years of stunning purple blooms on evergreen foliage, and are an attractive addition to the garden.

Grow tibouchina plants outdoors in zones 8, 9 and 10, as these areas of the country are the warmest. Grow it in a container in regions that are cooler and receive consistent freezing temperatures during winter.

Select a location that receives full to partial sun during the day, and afternoon shade in regions where daytime highs can be extremely hot.

Grow tibouchina in a weed-free area that is large enough for it to reach its mature size, which can up to 15 feet high with a width of 12 feet. Do not grow this plant in crowded conditions.

Amend the planting area with a rich organic material, such as compost, peat or manure. Apply a fresh application of this material around the entire area encompassing the drip line in the spring and again in late summer. Tibouchina prefers rich soils.

Mulch the planting area to keep it weed-free and the soil moist. Apply a fresh application of cypress mulch, pine bark or decayed leaves around the growing area once per year. Adding mulch will also enrich the soil.

Water the tibouchina regularly to keep the growing area moist but not flooded. Water the plant several times per week during bouts of dry, hot weather. Water the plant once per week during winters that are moist. Do not keep the planting area flooded with water, as the tibouchina can develop root rot.

Prune to control the tibouchina’s size and shape. Prune severely, if needed, in early spring so foliage can grow back in time for the blooming season in summer. Do not prune in late fall or winter, as the plant will be more susceptible to damage from frosts or freezes. Cut plants damaged by frosts or freezes down to the ground in spring, as new growth might grow back from the roots.

Fertilize the tibouchina with a 10-15-10 or 20-20-20 fertilizer in the early spring, summer and fall. Apply around the entire drip line, not allowing the fertilizer to touch the main trunk, or it will get burned.

Protect the tibouchina from frosts and freezes by covering the plant with blankets or hanging Christmas lights on its limbs to keep it warm. Bring container-grown plants indoors during freezing temperatures.

Gardening in South Africa

Tibouchina granulosaTibouchina is a genus of about 350 species of neo-tropical plants. Neo-tropical plants come from the biogeographic region of the New World that stretches southward from the Tropic of Cancer and includes southern Mexico, Central and South America, and the West Indies. Tibouchinas are native to the rainforests of Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, and especially Brazil. They are trees, shrubs or subshrubs, varying in height from 0.5 to 25m tall, and are known as glory bushes or glory trees. Terminal panicles of flower buds are held above the foliage, opening to large velvety blooms which fade with age; creating a wonderful two-tone effect. Flowering usually occurs during the warmer months, but is especially prolific in spring, late summer and autumn. In warm tropical and subtropical gardens this sumptuous display can continue through summer and well into winter. The flowers are particularly attractive to bees and butterflies and last well in a vase.

Their large bright saucer-shaped flowers with conspicuous stamens, and their attractive prominently veined leaves, Mature Tibouchina. Picture courtesy Michele Roelofsenmake them glorious additions to tropical and subtropical gardens and parks. Because the blooms are carried on terminal panicles, the plants look stunning if viewed from above. Plant them near a deck or patio as specimen or screening plants, or train them as standard plants for use in containers or above-ground planters. They are wonderful in the mixed shrub border, and if planted in small groupings the impact of bloom-time will be compounded. The large velvety flowers and often gritty or hairy leaves of these plants make them valuable additions to sensory gardens. Larger growing species like Tibouchina granulosa can be shaped into lovely small trees, with some early pruning providing strong, upright trunks. The canopy will also need to be pruned regularly to keep the lower branches from drooping to the ground. Tibouchinas do not have aggressive roots and can be planted fairly close to foundations, but allow them space to spread.

Tibouchina elegans Picture courtesy www.steyns-nursery.co.zaGlory bushes thrive in moist, humid, tropical, subtropical and warmly temperate regions. They are rather cold sensitive, but some varieties like Tibouchina urvilleana will tolerate light to moderate frost if they are planted in a very warm, protected part of the garden, are covered in winter, and the roots thickly mulched. If the plants are cut right back by frost they will usually grow back from the roots in spring. These plants are brittle and prone to breaking in the wind, so plant them in a sheltered position in the garden. They do however have a remarkable ability to re-grow from ground level after being snapped off, and consequently respond well to hard pruning.Their growth habit tends to become somewhat leggy if the plants are not frequently trimmed to keep them bushy; and because they bloom on new growth, trimming immediately after flowering will encourage more new growth and consequently more flowers.

Tibouchinas love full sun, but too much harsh sunlight can also be a problem; so if you live in a very hot or dry region plant them in a sunny location which is semi-shaded Tibouchina urvilleana Picture courtesy Tuberfloraduring the hottest part of the day. They prefer slightly acidic soils with a good amount of organic matter and good drainage, but will adapt to most well-drained garden soils; from very acid to slightly alkaline. Tibouchinas will not thrive in soils that are too alkaline and will show signs of burn around the leaf margins and yellowing between the leaf veins. They are adapted to chalk, clay loam, loam, loamy sand, sandy clay loam and sandy loam soils; but if your soil is less than ideal, dig lots of acid compost into the planting hole and mulch the roots often. Water regularly during dry spells to prevent the plant from drying out, but don’t keep the soil saturated or root rot can result. Feed regularly with a balanced organic fertiliser to encourage new bud formation. Glory bushes can sometimes be difficult to establish, and after planting, they may seem to lack the will to grow for a season or two, but do not despair, once they are fully settled they will suddenly ‘take off’.

Propagation is by seed sown at 16°C in spring, or by softwood cuttings taken in late spring and semi-hardwood cuttings in summer, both with bottom heat.

Tibouchinas are occasionally attacked by aphids, scale and nematodes; and mushroom root-rot can occur if drainage is bad or the plants are over watered. If there is not sufficient air circulation, leaf spots and spider mites can be problematic.

(Tibouchina granulosa) is a small evergreen tree or large shrub with large velvety, rich purple blooms, fading to a soft mauve with age; and somewhat shiny leaves. The species name ‘granulosa’ refers to the grainy, gritty texture of the leaves. It can be pruned into a lovely small tree +-3 to 5m tall and +-1.5 to 2m wide.

(Tibouchina granulosa ‘Rosea’) is very similar to Tibouchina granulosa but produces its large, clear pink flowers several weeks earlier; and is somewhat less vigorous, growing +-3 to 4m tall and +-1 to 1.5m wide.
(Tibouchina urvilleana) is a small evergreen tree or large shrub, which if left un-pruned has an ultimate height of +-4.5m, with a 3m spread, but in the garden it is generally kept a lot smaller, +-3m. It is hardier too cold than other varieties, tolerating light to moderate frost if it is planted in a very warm, protected part of the garden and is covered and the roots thickly mulched in winter. The large vibrant purple blossoms ‘bleed’ to red in the centre, and the attractive dark green, softly hairy leaves are often edged in red.

(Tibouchina elegans) has rich green, slightly hairy leaves and large purple flowers; growing +- 1.5 to 2.5m tall.

(Tibouchina grandifolia) has large, velvety leaves and is a wide- spreading bush up to 3m, with a height of +-1.5m. It produces large purple-violet flowers with a white centre and will tolerate light frost.

(Tibouchina semidecandra) is a fast growing semi-evergreen +-2.5m tall with dark green velvety leaves and royal purple flowers.

(Tibouchina ‘Jules’) is a dwarf variety growing +-1m tall and +-1.2m wide. It has small velvet green leaves, and purple flowers, and grows quite happily in large tubs or in garden beds. It is the most sensitive of the Tibouchinas to cold and frost.
WARNING: Tibouchinas can become invasive species in tropical and subtropical environments outside of their normal range; and all Tibouchina species are considered noxious weeds in Hawaii.

Tibouchina

T. urvilleana and T. grandifolia

Both the gorgeous tibouchina urvilleana and the velvety-leaved grandifolia are landscape show-stoppers for their luscious purple flowers. Though the bloom color is similar, these two mid-size varieties have distinctly different looks.

Urvilleana’s large blooms are made up of five wide open petals, on slightly downy, elliptical leaves.

Grandifolia’s leaves are rounded and so velvety soft you’ll want to pet them, and the flowers are spiky upright clusters of small blossoms.

These plants are so breathtaking you can expect passersby to come knocking at your door.

They’ll want to discover the plant’s name and admire it more closely.
Normally seen in shrub form, urvilleana can be grown as a small standard (tree-form).

Buy it already trained this way…doing it yourself may not give you the results you want.
Like most varieties of this wonderful plant, these shrubs prefer a bit of shade (like morning sun only or dappled light is ideal) rather than full-out blazing sun all day.

They will grow in sunnier spots, however…if you plan to plant in a fairly sunny area, ask in the nursery in what light their plants were grown so yours doesn’t suffer from a sudden sunburn.
Plants that blossom in shadier areas are harder to find, and these unusual shrubs with purple flowers are some of the showiest shrubs for shade.

All tibouchinas flower on and off all year – more during warmer weather. Other varieties include a dwarf shrub and a stunning tree.

Plant specs

Tibouchina urvilleana and the lesser-known grandifolia are evergreen but tend to thin a bit in winter. Both do well in a part shade area.

Each is a moderate grower that can be kept 3 to 5 feet tall.

Zone 10 is best for the large-leaf variety.

Urvilleana is more cold-tolerant, and can be grown in Zone 9B. There it will usually sustain some winter damage but generally comes back in spring.
For best results, place these shrubs in an area protected from strong winds…and under a canopy of trees or other frost protected spots if you can.

Plant care

Add top soil (or organic peat moss) mixed with composted cow manure to the hole when you plant.

Trim lightly as needed for shape. You can do a harder pruning in spring (late March or early April) for size and to promote full-to-the-ground growth.

Spaced well and kept properly trimmed, both shrubs stay lush and full to the ground.

Grandifolia has a tendency to lose bottom leaves and become leggy if it’s planted closely with things that prevent enough light from reaching its base.

But the pale beige wood of the stems can be attractive – or you can leave it surrounded with smaller plants that camouflage the base.

Water on a regular basis but don’t keep the area overly wet.

Fertilize 3 times a year – spring, summer and autumn – with a good granular fertilizer. You might want to supplement feedings with liquid fertilizer and/or bonemeal to encourage more flowering.

Plant spacing

Place 3 feet apart. Come away from the house 3 feet.

If you’re planting along a walk or drive, come in 3 feet.

These plants will do fine in containers.

Landscape uses for tibouchina

  • accent by the entry
  • mid-size hedge
  • along a drive or walkway
  • backdrop planting for smaller plants
  • accent in a mixed bed
  • understory shrub for palms and trees

A.K.A. (also known as):

Urvilleana: Princess Flower, Glory Bush.

Grandifolia: Large-Leaf Glory Flower, T. grandiflora (an incorrect botanical name)
GOOD SNOWBIRD PLANT? YES
COMPANION PLANT SUGGESTIONS: Orange bird of paradise, cat palm, variegated ginger, liriope, false aralia, elephant ears, peace lily, pinwheel jasmine, foxtail fern and chenille plant.

Other plants you might like: Yesterday Today and Tomorrow, Ruella

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How to plant and grow Tibouchina

A STUNNING, FAST GROWING SHRUB OR SMALL TREE

Plant Informaton – Tibouchina (387 KB)
Tibouchinas are renowned for their autumn colour and versatility. Mulch around Tibouchinas and add water crystals to encourage extra water holding as these plants will benefit from that encouraging healthy growth and root system health.

A stunning fast growing shrub/small tree with spectacular flowers during autumn to winter.

POSITION

Full sun to part shade, prefers a moist but well drained soil.

PRUNING

Lightly prune after flowering to maintain overall shape of the plant.

FERTILISING

Feed regularly with BRUNNINGS COMPLETE GARDEN FOOD, AQUASOL, THRIVE SOLUBLE, TROFORTE or OSMOCOTE to encourage sustained healthy growth.
Tibouchinas also require a regular solution of SEASOL, MAXICROP, YATES UPLIFT or POWERFEED for root system health.

CULTIVARS

TIBOUCHINA “JULES”

A glorious deep purple flowering shrub to 1m, by far the most popular out of this genus for its versatility.

TIBOUCHINA “ALSTONVILLE”

A stunning deep purple flowering small tree growing to 4m.

TIBOUCHINA “JAZZY”

A glorious pinkish purple flowering rounded shrub growing to 1m.
Browse through our lovely range of Tibouchina at Sheringhams Nursery in Terrey Hills, North Ryde or Seven Hills.

ORDER TIBOUCHINA ONLINE

Tibouchina ‘Alstonville’ 200mm

$21.95 Each

Tibouchina ‘Jules’ 200mm

$21.95 Each

Tibouchina

Tibouchinas are seen at their purple best in autumn when most are in full flower. These evergreen shrubs or small trees thrive in warm, sheltered gardens that are protected from frost. These are adaptable plants that can grow in full sun or part shade.

Tibouchinas (also known as lasiandra or glory bush) originated in parts of tropical South America including Brazil but are widely grown in Australia. The town of Alstonville in northern New South Wales has tibouchinas as a feature plant in the town with shrubs and trees growing as street plantings and in local parks and gardens.

As well has having attractive flowers over many weeks in autumn (with some also blooming in spring), tibouchinas have attractive dark green leaves with distinct veining and stems and buds that can be flushed with purple tones.

Tree or shrub?

The commonly grown tibouchina species include Tibouchina granulosa, which can form a 10-metre-high tree, T. macrantha, which grows to around 3 metres high and wide, and T. urvilleana, which grows as a shrub to 4.5 metres high. These plants are often seen as mature specimens in old gardens. Today tibouchinas are more likely to be sold as named varieties with many bred as compact garden plants.

As there is a range of sizes among tibouchinas, there’s a plant for just about any sized garden or situation. In large gardens, plant a tall-growing tibouchina trained to form a small tree or use it as an autumn feature in a shrub border. To accentuate the tree-like shape of a tall tibouchina, prune away lower branches to create a single stem. A good choice for a tall-growing variety is ‘Alstonville’ (T. lepidota), which grows to around 5 metres.

For small growers select ‘Jules’, which forms a low plant around 60 centimetres high and wide, or ‘Jazzie’, which has large purple flowers on a 1-metre-high bush. ‘Groovy Baby’ is another compact grower reaching just 45 centimetres high and wide. This variety originated in Queensland and is now widely grown in Australian gardens. It flowers from spring to autumn. All these compact varieties can be grown in containers, raised beds or as a low hedge or border.

Other colours

Although the purple-flowered species and varieties are the best known among the tibouchinas, there are other flower colours available. ‘Kathleen’ has pink flowers and blooms from spring to autumn. It grows as a tall shrub or small tree to around 5 metres high.

For striking white blooms seek out ‘Peace Baby’, which has prominent pink stamens in the centre of its white petals. For a mix of pink and white flowers choose ‘Cool Baby’, another selection from Queensland. Growing to a compact 45cm high and wide and smothered in blooms for many months, this plant can be grown in a shrub border, as a low hedge or feature plant in a large container.

Care tips

Tibouchinas grow quickly and have few pest or disease problems. Flowering will be reduced if plants are too heavily shaded. Growth may also become leggy and unattractive in heavy shade.

To maintain a dense shape, lightly prune tibouchinas after flowering or in early spring. Rejuvenate old, woody plants by giving them a hard prune in early spring to encourage new growth. Very woody plants should be pruned progressively over a period of several weeks waiting for new growth to appear before cutting more branches. Where surrounding growth overshadows old plants assess whether surrounding plants also need to be pruned to allow extra light into this part of the garden.

Water and feed pruned plants to support the new growth. Once a year fertilise in spring applying a complete fertiliser as temperatures warm. Water regularly especially if summers and early autumn are dry.

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