Beautiful with an exotic name
TIBOUCHINA. No, I'm not speaking another language, though sometimes botanical names of plants do make me feel like that.
Tibouchina, pronounced tib-oo-chee-na, is the beautiful mass purple flowering small tree that you see around the place from about autumn and all through winter.
For many years there were only a few types available and unless you wanted a tree or a very small shrub you could only admire these plants in everyone else's yard.
Over the past few years though, plant breeders have developed a wonderful range of Tibouchinas that vary in size, from about 30cm to about 2m and vary in shades of purple, from vivid purple all the way through to lilac and white.
These amazing new Tibouchinas also flower throughout the year instead of seasonally.
So you should have shades of purple in your garden for most of the year.
Tibouchinas like very acidic soils, so if you struggle to grow things such as azaleas or camellias in your garden you may also struggle with Tibouchinas.
The good thing about Tibouchinas is that they let you know they need more acidic soil - the leaf burns at the edges, turns brown and eventually the leaf dies.
You could add sulphur to your ground to prevent this. Another, and what I think is a much easier way, is to just grow your Tibouchinas in pots.
Tibouchinas like the full sun and look much better if they get a good haircut at least once a year after flowering.
I use my complete organic slow release granular fertiliser - Organic Link on mine at the turn of every season.
I find this not only keeps them looking healthy and fresh it promotes more flowering.
Some Tibouchinas don't like the cold so if you get heavy frost they will need protection.
But which Tibouchina to choose? With nearly 10 new types being released, which one is right for you?
Here's the quick lowdown. All the new Tibouchinas form dense shrubs. Just a small trim and fertilise in between flowering will keep them neat and compact.
Tibouchina Groovy Baby - About 30cm high, large vibrant purple flowers most of the year, doesn't mind the cold.
Tibouchina Little Beauty - About 1m high, large vibrant purple flowers most of the year.
Tibouchina Peace Baby - About 1m high, large white flowers with pink stamens, red tinged new growth, doesn't mind the cold.
Tibouchina Allure - About 1m high, lilac flowers in autumn and spring.
Tibouchina Carol Lyn or Jazzie - About 1.5 - 2m high, large vibrant purple flowers with a white centre, flowers most of the year.
Tibouchina Imagine - About 1.5m high, masses of light purple flowers with a white centre cover this shrub for most of the year.
Tibouchina Chameleon - About 2m high, a unique multi-coloured flowering display with the flowers starting almost a pure white, then changing to mauve, followed by a deep pink.
Tibouchina 'Illusion' - About 2.5m high, perfect for hedging, the flowers open white with a blush-pink margin, then mature to deep pink tones, creating an amazing display in spring and autumn.