109 Tibouchina urvilleanaCommon Names: princess flower, glory bush, purple glory bush, Tibouchina urvilleana (syn) Family: Melastomataceae (melastoma or meadow beauty Family)
This tender evergreen is a vigorous grower that forms majestic mounds of handsome foliage that is covered during the warm months with big beautiful bluish purple flowers. The princess flower is one of my favorite flowering shrubs and virtually everyone who encounters it falls for the princess flower. The numerous slender stems are rather vinelike and grow to about 15 ft (4.6 m) in length sprawling in all directions to create 10-12 ft (3-3.7 m) mounds unless pruned into more compact shapes. The simple leaves are velvety green and often tinged with red and are lighter on the undersides. They are large and coarse and 2-4 in (7.6-13 cm) long and 1-1.5 in (2.5-3.8 cm) wide with 3 to 5 midribs running the length. Princess flower blooms heavily in summer and sporadically throughout the year. The brilliant purple flowers are 3 in (7.6 cm) in diameter and so vividly colored they appear fluorescent.
Tibouchina urvilleana is native to Brazil. Princess flower is a very popular landscape plant in frost free areas around the world.
CulturePrincess flower prefers rich fertile soil but it is able to adapt to other soils as well if mulched, fed and periodically watered. Fertilize after each bloom cycle for optimum flowering. Light: Prefers sunny situations but the princess appreciates afternoon shade in areas with high summer temperatures. Moisture: Likes moisture but not soggy conditions. Will survive short periods of drought. Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 12. In Zone 8 freezing temperatures will kill back the plant but they usually resprout with the return of warm weather and recover to bloom in mid to late summer. In my Zone 8 garden, the princess flower is killed back nearly every winter but has dependably returned for the past 15 years. Propagation: Softwood cuttings and division of clumps.
The princess flower steals the show wherever it is used. Plant near outdoor living areas where its flowers can be enjoyed at close range. 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.
This fast growing shrub is quick to recover from frost and freeze die-back. It's very attractive bright purple flowers are especially enjoyable and good for cutting. Princess flower is seldom bothered by pest or disease. It's easy to grow and requires little maintenance once established.
In older references you'll see this plant called T. semidecandra which is a great name that I can pronounce. Unfortunately that's now a synonym and princess flower's new name is T. urvilleana. There are several other Tibouchina species that all hail from Brazil and are as pretty as the princess flower - I suspect we'll be seeing more of these showy relatives in tropical and sub-tropical landscapes.
Jack Scheper 08/30/96; 1/24/05