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Publication #ENH791

Tibouchina urvilleana: Princess Flower1

Edward F. Gilman, Dennis G. Watson, Ryan W. Klein, Andrew K. Koeser, Deborah R. Hilbert, and Drew C. McLean2

Introduction

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. 

Full Form—Tibouchina urvilleana: princess flower


[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 (Figure 2)

Origin: Brazil

UF/IFAS Invasive Assessment Status: invasive and not recommended except for “specified and limited” use approved by the UF/IFAS Invasive Plant Working Group

Uses: hedge; deck or patio; screen; specimen; container or planter; espalier; trained as a standard

Figure 2. 

Range


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Description

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

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite

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: 4 to 6 inches

Leaf color: dark green on top, paler green underneath

Fall color: no color change

Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. 

Leaf—Tibouchina urvilleana: princess flower


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Flower

Flower color: purple

Flower characteristics: very showy; emerges on terminal panicles

Flowering: primarily spring through winter, but also year-round

Figure 4. 

Flower—Tibouchina urvilleana: princess flower


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Fruit

Fruit shape: round capsule

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/branches: branches droop; not showy; typically multi-trunked; no thorns

Bark: brown and smooth to lightly roughed

Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure

Breakage: susceptible to breakage

Current year twig color: green

Current year twig thickness: medium

Wood specific gravity: unknown

Figure 5. 

Bark—Tibouchina urvilleana: princess flower


Credit:

Gitta Hasing


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Culture

Light requirement: full sun

Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; acidic; well-drained

Drought tolerance: high

Aerosol salt tolerance: none

Other

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.

Pests

Some of its pests are scales and nematodes.

Diseases

Mushroom root rot in soil which is kept too wet.

References

Koeser, A. K., Hasing, G., Friedman, M. H., and Irving, R. B. 2015. Trees: North & Central Florida. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Koeser, A.K., Friedman, M.H., Hasing, G., Finley, H., Schelb, J. 2017. Trees: South Florida and the Keys. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Footnotes

1.

This document is ENH791, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised March 2007 and December 2018. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu for the currently supported version of this publication.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department; Ryan W. Klein, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department; Andrew K. Koeser, assistant professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center; Deborah R. Hilbert, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; and Drew C. McLean, biological scientist, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; 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.