Tibouchinas are subtropical plants native to Brazil. They are famed for their large and vibrant flowers, usually in shades of eye-catching purple. Their striking appearance has given rise to them being referred to as glory bushes or glory trees. There are many varieties of Tibouchina ranging from 1m shrubs to 6m trees. As the popularity of Tibouchina’s has increased in Australia, so to has the investment in developing new varieties well suited to our conditions.
One Australian breeding program in particular has drawn international attention due to its success with dwarf varieties well suited to containers and with increased cold tolerance. Plant breeder Terry Keogh of Queensland has had a long and distinguished career in horticulture. Terry has long been fascinated with the beauty of Tibouchinas and was amongst the first to identify the potential in the market for dwarf forms and new flower colours.
Cold Tolerant Tibouchina
However, his vision didn’t stop their and Terry also introduced cold tolerant genetics into his breeding work. The results have been stunning and Terry’s plants – sold under the banner of the Fantasy Flower Collection – are popular now not only across Australia but around the world. Causing the biggest stir are the 3 dwarf varieties in the range.
The first of these was Tibouchina ‘Groovy Baby’, a fabulous small shrub well suited to container displays due to its compact size of approximately 45cm. ‘Groovy Baby’ is smothered with electric purple flowers in the warmer months. The sheer size of the blooms is sometimes so great that the foliage is difficult to see. Adding to its success is its cold tolerant nature, meaning it performs equally well in the cooler southern states and can be grown right down through Melbourne and Hobart with confidence.
The second instalment in the collection was the beautiful ‘Peace Baby’. Sharing all the traits of its predecessor, ‘Peace Baby’ has stunning large white blooms with vivid pink stamens. It certainly adds an air of understated elegance to the garden. Completing the trio is the new ‘Cool Baby’ which offers an intriguing combination of pink and white flowers. All three varieties are perfect for container planting and adding an instant tropical feel to your outdoor entertainment space this season.
Whilst Terry closely guards his horticultural secrets, its fantastic to know that these new varieties are purpose bred to suit Australian conditions and to perform equally well in the cooler states as they do in Queensland. Look out for the Tibouchina Fantasy Flower range in your local garden centre. If you give one as a gift this Christmas be sure to share Terry’s story!
Further details are available at www.pma.com.au