Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Plant profile: Tibouchina

Our original Princess Plant (Tibouchina urvilleana) was the first plant I noticed at P. Garden, planted by Jim who had rescued it from the street. She was a scraggly specimen with a split trunk and long, unbalanced branches that had not been looked after over the years. For her own good, she had to be pruned rather hard by Leah, and for a while there we wondered if she was going to make it. She has since bounced back and is currently putting on quite the display (photo bottom)!

I got another type from Jared, a Tibouchina heteromalla (Silver Leafed Princess Flower - left), which looks swell by the bench with it's silvery, fuzzy leaves. This one has a different type of flower habit too, with the smaller flowers appear along a vertical spike.

Latin name: Tibouchina (tib-oo-KEE-nah, tib-oo-CHEE-nah)
Common name: Princess Plant, Glory Bush
Originally from: The rainforests of Mexico, the West Indies, and South America, especially Brazil.
Blooms: They're pretty much covered in waves of big purple flowers almost all the time
Light: Full sun!
Water: Average to low once established.
Where to find in P. Garden: See the original Tibouchina urvilleana in the center back bed, and  the Tibouchina heteromalla (Silver Leafed Princess Flower) next to the bench.

There are about 350 species of Tibouchina. The name comes from an adaptation of the native Guiana term for these shrubs. Although a common and beloved plant here in California, the Princess Plant is a nasty invasive weed in Hawaii. I have to say I don't have a lot of compassion for the Hawaiians, since they can grow all sorts of tropical stuff year round but I suppose you have to have weeds, even in paradise.

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