Tibouchina Growing and Plant Care Guide

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  • Date: October 21, 2022
  • Time to read: 8 min.
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Tibouchina Flower

What Is a Tibouchina?

Tibouchina is a tree or shrub in the Melastomataceae family. It is native to tropical areas of South America and has pink, yellow, purple, or white flowers. Tibouchinas can be grown outdoors but will need some protection from cold weather and freezing temperatures.

These plants are commonly found growing as pergola plants in gardens and landscapes throughout Florida for their stunning architectural features.

The Tibouchina plant bears stunningly beautiful flowers that attract birds and butterflies to the yard during the spring season months.

The leaves are glossy green with a touch of red color when they first emerge from the stem, which darkens into an even deeper green over time. Considered easy to grow by most gardeners who tried it, having this plant in your yard or landscape will add beauty to the scenery.

Tibouchina Care & Maintenance:

It is a very slow-growing tree taking about three years to mature.

Tibouchina is susceptible to cold temperatures and will not withstand hard freezes, so plant it in areas that are protected from winter weather conditions.

This evergreen shrub reaches between 10 to 15 feet at maturity and has a rounded canopy of deep green leaves with reddish-brown stems. Its branches are upright and somewhat sparse scattering the light but can be trimmed back if necessary.

The flowers appear near the ends of the branches on clusters of vibrant purple-red colored bracts that grow singly or in pairs. The fruit grows as an inflated capsule containing numerous seeds which when ripe are yellow-orange in color. It is also considered ornamental and is used as pergola plants in landscapes all over Florida.

Tibouchina is easy to grow and can be planted at the edges of borders or right along a walkway where its showy displays of flowers will not be missed by decorating your landscape with this flamboyant beauty.

This evergreen is tolerant of many different types of soil but needs plenty of water to keep it looking healthy and vibrant throughout the year.

It also needs to be grown in partial shade to full sun exposure but not in deep shade, which makes it a perfect addition for use as an understory plant on mountain slopes or in parks and gardens near waterways where it can benefit from its natural wetland habitat environment.

 Light Requirements:

Tibouchina prefers partial shade to full sun exposure but will do well in deep shade. You can grow it indoors as long as you give it bright, indirect sunlight and don’t let the plant’s leaves burn from intense light.

Water Requirements:

Tibouchina is a tropical plant that thrives and grows well in humid environments and areas near water.   It should be planted in moist, rich soil that drains well, but not soggy soil. Water it enough to keep the soil from completely drying out but don’t over-water it either.

Soil Requirements:

Tibouchinas grow well in most types of soil, but they prefer rich composted soils that drain well. Grow them in acidic soils with a pH level between 5.0 and 6.5 or in neutral to slightly alkaline soils with a pH level between 6.6 and 7.5 for best results.

Tibouchina Temperature and Humidity Requirements:

Tibouchina is a tropical plant that thrives in warm, tropical climates. Provide them with temperatures between 18 to 24 degrees C but can tolerate 12 to 32 degrees C if they are kept out of the cold. If exposed to temperatures below freezing, the tree will die back and lose most of its leaves, but it should re-sprout after the temperature warms above 10 degrees C.

Tibouchina Fertilizing Requirements:

Tibouchinas need regular fertilizing throughout the year, especially in the spring and summer months to promote healthy growth. Use any balanced, general-purpose fertilizer during these seasons. In the winter months when growth has slowed or stopped completely, feed them every two weeks with a low nitrogen fertiliser that is high in phosphorus and potassium.

Cool-season growers may benefit from feeding it a low nitrogen / high phosphate / potash mix while keeping the soil slightly on the acidic side of neutral pH for best results.

Potting and repotting Requirements:

Tibouchina are best planted in a large container and left undisturbed for several years until they are ready to flower. Once the plant is mature, it can be moved outside, if desired. During Spring and Summer seasons repot your Tibouchina into a slightly larger pot every other year with a well-draining soil that has been enriched with compost or peat moss.

 Pinch off the tips of new shoots regularly during this time to encourage side branching and promote bushier growth. For indoor plants, add plenty of organic material such as sphagnum moss or bark chips into the soil before you transfer it to its final destination where it will stay permanently. Keep them well-watered at all times and mist them regularly with cool water when the air is dry to make up for any lost moisture.

At all times, keep your Tibouchina free of pests or diseases by inspecting it regularly and removing any infected parts or leaves right away. If you notice whiteflies on the plant, spray it with insecticidal soap to kill them off quickly.

Insects such as scale or mites can be dealt with using a systemic pesticide that works slowly over time to eliminate these pests without harming your plant. Avoid harmful chemical pesticides as much as possible because they will kill both insects and beneficial natural predators in the environment that can help fight pests later on down the line if allowed to survive.  Some gardeners also use ladybugs, lacewings, praying mantis and other beneficial insects to help control pest populations in the yard or garden.

In cold weather areas, keep your Tibouchina indoors during winter months if possible to protect it from freezing temperatures. If you can’t keep it inside, cut back on watering as much as possible until Spring arrives and the threat of a freeze is gone.

Once your plant starts growing again (usually after the last hard frost) start feeding it regularly with high nitrogen fertilizers that are rich in phosphorus and potassium once every two weeks throughout the rest of Spring and Summer for best results. The leaves will grow quickly but don’t feed them more than what they can use otherwise you might end up with an oversized leafy problem to deal with. When Winter comes around and the growth slows down, stop fertilizing altogether for a few months.

Tibouchina Propagation info:

Tibouchina bahamensis is a fast-growing tree that can grow from 1.5 m to 6 m tall in just 3 years if given optimal conditions. It may only be semi-hardy when young but it easily adapts to different climates and is easy to propagate by seeds or cuttings for the amateur home gardener.

Start seeds indoors about 6 weeks before your last frost date during Springtime, sow them on the surface of a well-drained soil mix with plenty of peat moss added in or use an eggshell as a mini seed pot along with some sphagnum moss underneath.

Keep it at around 16 degrees C until sprouting occurs then harden off the plant and transplant it into its permanent home outside after the last frost in your area.

There is no need to repot young plants into larger containers until they are ready to flower, but you can propagate them by taking softwood cuttings or semi-hardwood cuttings during Spring and Summer if you please.

Take 3 node cuttings from the new growth on a mature Tibouchina plant using rooting hormone with plenty of bottom heat to root successfully indoors. Keep it in a humid environment for best results!

Cuttings can also be rooted directly outdoors when ground temperatures are warm enough (above 10 degrees C) in shady areas only so there is no danger of overheating the cutting before roots form. Use pre-moistened sphagnum moss as the rooting medium and keep the soil moist at all times for best results. Tibouchina Propagation Troubleshooting:

#1- If you don’t get sprouts after germinating your seed, it might be because of old seeds or moisture trapped in the shell that is preventing them from sprouting. Try a different brand of seed to see if it works better or soak them overnight before planting. Old seeds aren’t viable anymore so they won’t grow!

#2 – If you have followed the instructions carefully but your Tibouchina tree still doesn’t grow, there could be a problem with your soil mix or lack of nutrients in the soil somewhere. Check on these things first before blaming it on faulty seeds.

Solidago virgaurea is a good companion plant for Tibouchina bahamensis because it attracts pollinators and keeps aphids away. It also repels mosquitoes.

Hemerocallis fulva, Rose of Sharon shrub (Hibiscus syriacus), and Butterfly Bush are all good choices as well. They attract butterflies, bees, and birds to your yard that will help keep pest numbers down at the same time!

Tibouchina Problems:

#1- How to handle giant leaves on Tibouchina? Your plant is probably getting too much water from overhead sprinkling and isn’t able to transport it up the trunk. This will make the leaves grow larger than they should be naturally. Reduce watering during the Summer months or simply prune them back drastically until new growth appears in order to reduce leaf size.

#2 -Yellowing lower leaves with brown marks and holes in the middle of each one are signs of an aphid infestation (aphids love rhododendrons and azaleas). Destroy any infected leaves right away while they still have some green left in them because if you wait until Winter, there won’t be enough time to save your plant!

Use Sevin dust right away mixed with water in a spray bottle to kill adult aphids and nymphs on contact. Remove as much dead plant material from the soil as well for good measure because eggs will still hatch even in dry conditions.

#3 – Spider mites love hot weather so keep an eye out any time temperatures begin to rise! This pesky pest sucks the fluids out of your precious Tibouchina, leaving leaf veins behind first then moving onto leaves that are lower down on the branches until they all turn yellow and fall off.

You must isolate affected plants from healthy ones immediately in order to prevent more spider mite infestations from happening. Place cotton swabs in between leaflets and under leaves along stems so you can see if there are any spider mites on the underside of the leaves. If you find any, spray with water or insecticidal soap (consult the label for usage instructions) while wearing latex gloves to avoid getting bitten and then quarantine them!

#4 – Aphids can also ride along on your Tibouchina plants that you bring inside from outdoors so make sure not to wash any of their pollen off before bringing them in your home. You don’t want to be spreading aphid eggs around a whole new place only minutes after they were outside!.

Wash all leaves well when inside. Help stop the spread of plant diseases by practicing cleanliness with your gardening tools as well. Use fresh scissors or pruners whenever possible instead of sharing everything between different plant species (you might be spreading disease). Whenever you can, try to prune away and destroy any affected tissue or plant remains before they go bad because this will reduce the chances of them infecting other plants in your collection!

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