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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Tibouchina, a new favorite for me!

Tibouchina are a beautiful genus of flowering plants native to South America. Many are invasive in the tropics but are not at all an issue up in northern climates. They grow as large shrubs, small trees, even vines - depending on the species. If they came in more than just 1 flower color, you could landscape a whole yard with these!

T. urvilleana can often be seen as a tree in warm climates like Central and Southern Florida. At that size you can't see just how beautiful the fuzzy leaves are, but the flowers are enough to set it apart from just about anything else. This is one of my favorite new additions to my yard this year. I got them from the Annual Rutgers Plant sale which often has very interesting tropicals. These are not easy plants to find in a northern climate, but if you're lucky enough to find one - get it! Not sure how it will overwinter but right now I am enjoying the heck out of it!

There it was back in May,  between the silver Agave Parryi and the sprouting elephant ear, no more than a foot tall.

Here it is just a few weeks later. It's as tall as me with new flowers every single day. 

The flowers are so cool!

Another Beauty are T. Grandiflora. These also get huge in warm climates but are definitely shrubs, not trees. The leaves of T. Grandiflora are usually much bigger than T. urvilleana and the flowers much smaller. The flowers last longer and have a completely different growing habit though. I believe that this year I have T. heteromalla, not T. Grandiflora which I had in the past (but lost indoors because of under watering). Still absolutely beautiful!

This is definitely a T. Grandiflora in my yard in 2014. The leaves are much larger, the plant did not branch as easily, and the bloom heads are more compact and larger as well. 

So the verdict - this genus is absolutely beautiful and so underused up north. Like Plumerias, they do great in pots, easy to start from cuttings, bloom profusely, and can overwinter indoors without issues but are also nearly impossible to find in nurseries up north. As beautiful as tropical hibiscus are, I think that these would be a quick sell out at nurseries if they were sold!

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