Tibouchina heteromalla, or Silver Leafed Princess Flower, is becoming increasingly popular and more widely available. Similar to other tibouchinas, this species has the same deep purple-colored flowers that are so distinctive, but it also has beautiful foliage to match.
Tibouchina heteromalla has large, velvety leaves that are covered with many soft, fine hairs. These hairs are actually the cause of the silver color of the leaves, and also make them so nice to touch!
In central Florida it is rare to see a Tibouchina heteromalla more than six feet tall. I have one in a container that is about this height, but the container is adding a couple of feet to the size. The branching is strongest in full sun and can get rather leggy and weak in the shade, causing the plant to lean over. This is best remedied by trimming back the top heavy growth to encourage more branching and a stronger plant.
Silver leaved princess flowers are cold sensitive, listed as a zone 10-11, so we are pushing the limits a little bit in my area. I am not very good about covering plants when cold weather approaches, but do keep in mind that it is very likely to see some leaf drop during the winter months. Luckily, they flower on new growth, so any new branches still have the potential to bear flowers the next summer.
The purple flowers are slightly smaller than in other tibouchina, but I think the velvety leaves more than make up for this quality. The flowers are held in larger groups than other tibouchinas, that tend to have single flowers, but these large panicles are quite showy when all together.