Strokable leaves, eye-catching buds and large dark purple flowers make Tibouchina urvilleana (commonly called glory bush) an unusual plant. This fast-growing shrub can reach heights of 25 m in the wild. The cultivated version remains considerably smaller, although the flowers with a 6-10 cm diameter are still utterly spectacular. Tibouchina blooms in late spring, and continues to produce new flowers until late autumn. There are also varieties with white flowers and variegated leaves.
Tibouchina is a member of the Melastomataceae family and originates from South America, where the plant especially occurs in Brazil. There are some 350 species, which particularly grow in the tropical rainforests - the plant likes it warm and damp. The best spot in the garden is where the humidity is highest, for example near a pond or water feature. If those aren’t available, you can also place the plant on an island (e.g. an upturned flowerpot) in an attractive bowl of water which can evaporate around it.
The plant’s elegant black stamens make it resemble a spider.
It’s hard to imagine, but on Hawaii the plant is considered a weed.
The scientific name Tibouchina arose in Guyana. The species name ‘urvilleana’ is derived from the name of the French explorer and botanist Jules Dumont d’Urville (1790-1842).