TIBOUCHINA. Princess flower. South America. A large group of showy shrubs, of which only a few are known here. Most are simply too tropical for cultivation outdoors even in coastal California. Happily, there are a few suitable for milder areas. They have usually stout, angled stems, covered like the leaves with stiff hairs. Paired along the stems are normally large, deeply veined leaves with (not surprisingly) a tropical appearance. Clustered at the shoot tips are large, brilliantly colored 5-petalled flowers with similarly colorful stamens. The following are striking shrubs for individual display. They are easily grown in sun or light shade, most soils (though preferably with amply fertilizer), with moderate to regular watering. Their hardiness varies.
heteromalla. A beautiful though tender shrub, received recently from Robert Abe. It is similar in general appearance to T. urvilleana. However, it is more moderate in growth, reaching about 6', and has shorter, stouter stems. The leaves are up to 6" long, quite broad and densely set with silky grey hairs. The flowers measure only a little over 1" across, but they are carried up to ten in a cluster. Flower color is about the same vivid purple shade as that seen in T. urvilleana. Hardy to 25oF or less, though visibly damaged by even light freezes.
urvilleana (T. semidecandra, Pleroma splendens). A popular large shrub for gardens near the coast. It has thick, conspicuously ribbed stems and fuzzy, deep green leaves which are bronze-tinted in new growth. Where it thrives, it produces a continual parade of dazzling purple, broad-petalled 3" flowers. Sun or light shade, most soils, moderate watering. Ultimately hardy to around 20oF, though burned by any sudden frost.