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Publication #ENH791

Tibouchina urvilleana: Princess Flower1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2


This sprawling, evergreen shrub or small ornamental tree ranges from 10 to 15 feet (20 feet with proper training) in height. It can be trimmed to any size and still put on a vivid, year-long flower display. The dark green, velvety, four to six-inch-long leaves have several prominent longitudinal veins instead of the usual one, and are often edged in red. Large, royal purple blossoms, flaring open to five inches, are held on terminal panicles above the foliage, creating a spectacular sight when in full bloom. Some flowers are open throughout the year but they are especially plentiful from May to January. Princess flower is ideal for the mixed shrubbery border or used in small groupings to compound the impact of bloom-time.

Figure 1. 

Middle-aged Tibouchina urvilleana: princess flower


Ed Gilman, UF/IFAS

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Tibouchina urvilleana
Pronunciation: tib-oo-KYE-nuh er-vill-ee-AY-nuh
Common name(s): Princess flower
Family: Melastomataceae
USDA hardiness zones: 9B through 11 (Fig. 2)
Origin: not native to North America
Invasive potential: has been evaluated using the UF/IFAS Assessment of the Status of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas (Fox et al. 2005). This species is not documented in any undisturbed natural areas in Florida. Thus, it is not considered a problem species and may be used in Florida.
Uses: hedge; deck orpatio; screen; specimen; container or planter; espalier; trained as a standard
Availability: not native to North America

Figure 2. 


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Height: 10 to 15 feet
Spread: 10 to 15 feet
Crown uniformity: irregular
Crown shape: vase, round
Crown density: dense
Growth rate: moderate
Texture: coarse


Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire, ciliate
Leaf shape: lanceolate, ovate
Leaf venation: bowed, parallel
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen, broadleaf evergreen
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches, 4 to 8 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. 


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Flower color: purple
Flower characteristics: very showy


Fruit shape: round
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit covering: dry or hard
Fruit color: brown
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches droop; not showy; typically multi-trunked; thorns
Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure
Breakage: susceptible to breakage
Current year twig color: green
Current year twig thickness: medium
Wood specific gravity: unknown


Light requirement: full sun
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; acidic; well-drained
Drought tolerance: high
Aerosol salt tolerance: none


Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: no
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: unknown
Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management

Princess flower requires full sun for best flowering and will thrive on any well-drained soil when regularly watered. Its 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.

Tibouchina granulosa grows larger (15 to 20 feet tall and wide) and is easier to train into a tree.

Propagation is by cuttings.


Some of its pests are scales and nematodes.


Mushroom root rot in soil which is kept too wet.

Literature Cited

Fox, A.M., D.R. Gordon, J.A. Dusky, L. Tyson, and R.K. Stocker (2005) UF/IFAS Assessment of the Status of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas. Cited from the Internet (November 3, 2006),



This document is ENH791, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised March 2007. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at


Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; and Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.