Tibouchina urvilleana: Princess flower

Family: Melastomataceae
Common name: Princess flower, Glory bush, Purple glory tree, Pleroma, Lasiandra

Princess flower plants are a beautiful addition to your garden as centerpieces, hedges or for filling a large pot with deep purple blooms. They grow to a height of 3-6 meters under ideal growing conditions, with a good spread of 2-3 meters. But normal houseplants only grow to about 1-2 meters.

Their leaves are dark green with long, prominent veins running from the base of the leaf towards the tip. These velvety leaves with thin, short, downy hairs look so unique, that the plant can look beautiful even without the blooms.

Flowers are dark purple and about 4 cms in diameter; with prominent, long, curvy stamens. Though Princess flowers don’t stay alive for a long time, new blooms keep opening frequently making sure the plant is covered with flowers throughout the year.

They mostly bloom in summer, though they are known to bloom throughout the year in warm, tropical weather. Princess flowers attract birds, bees, butterflies and insects that help pollinate them.

The flowers then form brown fruitpods that is about 1 cm in diameter. When the fruitpod matures, it opens at the top to reveal beautiful white and black seeds surrounding a central ball-like structure.

Princess flower plants can be pruned into desired shapes, and this helps keep the plant bushy. They can also be trained to grow on a trellises with their long vine-like stems. These plants prefer good sunlight, and cannot be grown as an indoor plant. Since princess flower plants bloom regularly, they need regular watering and frequent fertilization.

Princess flower plants can spread quickly through seeds or suckers, taking over new areas in the wild. Hence it is possible for this plant to become an invasive weed in undisturbed areas with good sunlight and occasional rainfall. Though a native of Brazil, these plants are now grown all over the world as garden favorites because of their bright, showy flowers.

Propagation is through seeds, stem cuttings, and through suckers that grow around the parent plant.

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