Although they originated in South America, Tibouchinas have become very much part of the New Zealand garden.

Because of their tropical origins, tibouchinas really appreciate warm conditions and don’t usually succeed where there are very hard frosts. These days, though, there are plenty of smaller tibouchinas that can be grown in pots. This means that, in cold areas, a potted tibouchina can be moved into a protected spot (even a glasshouse) for the winter, thus enabling it to survive through the cold part of the year.

Tibouchina varieties

  • Tibouchina ‘Alstonville’, one of the most popular cultivars. It grows to small tree size and smothers itself in rich purple flowers through much of late summer and autumn.
  • Tibouchina, ‘Kathleen’, also reaches small tree size. Its lolly-pink flower sprays provide a refreshing change from the widely grown purple.
  • Tibouchina ‘Noelene’ offers gardeners something quite unusual: a tibouchina with flowers that change colour as they age. The flowers start off white and gradually mutate to a deep, mauve-pink. The various shades seen on the plant at the one time create an attractive, multi-coloured effect. To add to its interest, ‘Noelene’ tends to flower in early summer, well before most of its relatives.
  • Tibouchina ‘Jules’ is a small tibouchina that reaches about 1 metre and does well in a pot or a mixed border. Its flowers are similar to the deep purple blooms of ‘Alstonville’, but the plant’s compact size makes it easy to place in the landscape. 

Caring for Tibouchinas

As mentioned, these warmth lovers will need some protection to get them through winter in cold climates. Move to a covered porch or glasshouse.

Feed tibouchinas in spring, summer and after flowering with a long lasting, bloom-boosting fertiliser such as Yates Thrive Rose & Flower Granular Plant Food. Keep well-watered when it’s hot and dry (like most tropical plants, they need plenty of water, but good drainage). Prune after flowering or, if winters are cold, in early spring.


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