A native of Brazil, the princess flower (Tibouchina urvilleana) is a glorious addition to tropical and sub-tropical gardens. Its large purple flowers and soft hairy leaves add interest and a burst of color to any landscape. It can also be used as an indoor container plant in cooler regions if full light and warmth are provided. Though it is usually a shrub in the United States, it sometimes becomes large enough to form a small ornamental tree.
This shrub is a recipient of the Award of Garden Merit given out by the Royal Horticultural Society.
- Botanical Name: Tibouchina urvilleana. Sometimes it is listed as Tibouchina semidecandra. It is included in the Melastomataceae family.
- Common Names: Princess flower, glory bush, pleroma, purple glory bush or lasiandra. Princess flower may also be used for other species in the genus.
- Plant Type: Perennial evergreen shrub or small tree
- Mature Size: 10 to 20 feet outdoors (can be pruned to be compact), 2 to 3 feet indoors
- Sun Exposure: Full sun, though it can tolerate some afternoon shade, especially in the hottest zones.
- Soil Type: Rich, well-drained, acidic
- Bloom Time: Year-round
- Flower Color: Purple
- Hardiness Zones: Zones 9-11 are best for this shrub. It can be grown in Zone 8, but winter frost will cause it to die back until warmer temperatures return.
- Native Area: Brazil
Foliage and Flowers
The princess flower is tall at its mature size and can be pruned to be more compact. It is round or vase-shaped. The leaves are 2 to 6 inches in length and 1 to 1.5 inches wide, covered in soft hair and often tipped with red around the edges.
The flowers are 3 to 5 inches wide and a deep, vibrant purple. Princess flower can produce blooms year-round, especially if it is deadheaded to encourage the formation of more flower buds. The fruit is a small brown capsule that is under 0.5 inches long
Use the princess flower as a specimen plant or for borders and foundations. The large vibrant purple flowers and soft hairy leaves work well in sensory gardens.
How to Grow Princess Flower
Be sure to protect this plant against frost and strong winds. If you live in a cooler USDA zone, you could plant the princess flower in a container to be brought in each winter. You can also have it be a houseplant with enough warmth and light.
You can propagate princess flower using softwood cuttings.
Maintenance and Pruning
Prune the princess flower to maintain a rounded shape. Pinch new growth to encourage branch formation. Prune lightly after blooming. This shrub can be trained to form a standard if you prefer it to have a tree shape.
Pests and Diseases
Occasionally scale, nematodes, and geranium budworm may attack the princess flower. Mushroom root-rot can occur if it is over-watered.