Plant of the Month: Tibouchina urvilleana
“Princess Flower” or “Glory Bush”
Melastomataceae – Meadow Beauty Family
Tibouchina, the “Princess Flower” or “Glory Bush”, is native to Brazil, and enjoys a tropical or subtropical climate. It blooms heavily in late summer into late fall and sporadically the rest of the year. Look for Tibouchina urvilleana in the Seasonal House.
The Melastomes are herbs, shrubs, or trees comprising about 200 genera and 4,000 species that are characterized by having the major leaf veins usually running in a parallel fashion from the base of the blade to near the leaf tip. The leaves are usually opposite. The fruit is a capsule or berry.
The flowers typically do not produce nectar, and are visited mainly by pollen gathering bees. The characteristic anther shape may serve as a hold for bees’ legs. The seeds of species with capsular fruits are usually wind or raindrop dispersed. The berries are dispersed by birds, mammals, turtles or lizards.
Tibouchina is a tender, semi-hardy shrub here in the Seattle area. Depending on the microclimate, sometimes it will survive a mild winter in the garden, but it’s best to give protection during freezing weather. It’s a good idea to grow it in a container that can stay outdoors until temperatures go below 30º, and then bring it inside for winter. Then give less water and allow it to rest. Prune leggy branches in spring and put back outside when frost danger is past.
See Tibouchina grandiflora, urvilleana and more throughout September at Volunteer Park Conservatory!