Princess Flower – Tibouchina urvilleana

The Princess Flower grows wild in the tropical rain forests of Brazil and it is a truly spectacular plant when in full bloom, bearing magnificent, saucer-shaped purple flowers with an iridescent sheen which are set off to perfection by the velvety foliage. The flowers are about 10cm (4in) across, and grow in small clusters at the ends of the branches.

The plant grows as a large, woody shrub which is best kept in a conservatory, sunroom or heated greenhouse. Large specimens can be trained on a trellis or against the wall of a conservatory. Princess Flower has long, hanging stems which are quite fragile and may quickly become leggy. Trim back new shoots to keep the plant compact and prune hard when the flowering period is over. In summer, it can be taken outside, but protect it from direct sunlight.

Princess Flower can grow to a height of 3m (10ft) in the wild, but cultivated plants are much smaller, about 120-180cm. The mid-green leaves are quite distinctive. They are about 5-8cm (2-3in) in length, oval and with a velvety appearance. Each leaf also has prominent pale green veins curving from the base to the tip and a finely toothed edge. Princess Flower has a slow to medium growth rate.Princess Flower - Tibouchina urvilleana

Although there are over 200 species of Princess Flower, very few are cultivated. It is not an ideal plant for mass cultivation as the stems are long and rather fragile. The most commonly grown form is Tibouchina urvilleana, which is sometimes sold as semidecandra or Pleroma splendens. The plant is also known as glory bush and purple glory tree.

The true T. semidecandra has leaves with red margins and it flowers much less profusely than T urvilleana. Another, rarer form which you may find in a specialist nursery is T. multiflora. This variety has much smaller purple flowers in large clusters.

Through The Year

November—February Princess Flower will be in bloom for a long period until November. When the flowers stop appearing, reduce the amount of water and lower the temperature to about 13°C (55°F).


Pinch out the tips if the plant is grown against a trellis. Prune pot grown plants severely by cutting back young stems to 2-3 buds.


Keep the temperature at about 21°C (70°F) or higher and increase the amount of water. Feed every 2-3 weeks.


Princess Flower should start to produce its first flowers about mid-July and continue blooming until November. It now needs plenty of water and a liquid fertilizer every two weeks. Move Princess Flower outdoors during hot weather if possible, but protect it from strong sunlight.



Sow seeds in spring using a mixture of three parts soil-based compost and one part gritty sand. Do not cover the seeds. Place the pot or tray in indirect light at about 21°C (70°F) until the seeds start to germinate. Pot on when the seedlings are large enough to handle.


Take stem or tip cuttings during March pruning. Insert these in an equal parts mixture of peat moss and sharp sand.

Keep the cuttings moist and warm, about 21°C (70°F). When new growth appears, move the young plants into individual pots.

Pests And Diseases

Leaves turn yellow and drop in winter if the plant is overwatered. Treatment: Allow to dry out and water less in future.

Leaves turn brown and dry during the summer when BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT are too dry.

Treatment: Increase water and humidity levels and move out of the sun.

Yellow stippling on the leaves is due to red spider mites (which look like tiny red dots) on the undersides.

Treatment: Spray with a suitable insecticide and raise the humidity by standing the pot on a saucer of moist pebbles.

Mealy bugs look like small blobs of fluffy white cotton.

Treatment: Remove them with a cotton swab dipped in diluted methylated spirit. Use a suitable insecticide for severe attacks.


Princess Flower cannot survive frost or very cold temperatures and is best suited to being grown in a heated greenhouse or conservatory. Stand it outdoors in summer. Prune back in March for a compact plant.

  • Potting: Repot in spring using a soil-based compost, or top-dress larger specimens.
  • Water generously throughout the flowering season but do not let the plant stand in water. Reduce the amount of water in winter, giving just enough to barely moisten the compost.
  • Feeding: Feed with a liquid fertilizer every 14–, 21 days during spring and summer.


  • Light: Give as much light and warmth as you can, but avoid standing the plant in direct sunlight.
  • Temperature: Keep the plant warm — winter temperatures should not drop below 13°C (55°F) and summer temperatures should exceed 21°C (70°F) where possible.

Princess Flower is an excellent plant for late summer and autumn blooms. It has big, velvety leaves and large, iridescent purple flowers.

Buying Tips

  • Princess Flower plants may be hard to find, so you may need to contact a nursery which specializes in exotic plants. They should be able to supply both seeds and plants during the early part of the flowering season.
  • Choose a small, bushy plant with strongly coloured, luxuriant foliage. Avoid large plants with bare stems and straggly growth.
  • Protected from frost, this plant can live for years.

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