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How hardy is Tibouchina spp.?

How hardy is Tibouchina spp.?

i want to collect seeds from a cold area in Brazil and was wondering if anybody here has grown this plant outside.

The following thread was started by Marc Camargo on November 02, 2007 at 2:01 pm PST

Strong 9

Seattle grows it in their city like crazy, but it never lasts.. as soon as the first frost comes theyre usually toast...

a patio or deck in the seattle area is probably best during the winter...

The above followup was added by Kenton - on November 02, 2007 at 3:05 pm PST.

Which Tibouchina species are you seeing?

I think that T. urvilleana is probably the hardiest species that is commonly planted out, but is not a good candidate for areas that are going to regularly see below 28F temps each winter. It gets 15 or more feet tall here along the coast and can be in full massive bloom year round if sheltered from winter storms. It has survived 25F here in the SF Bay Area, but was killed back to the roots. T. heteromalla is the other species,(with fabulous large fuzzy silvery leaves) most commonly seen here in northern California, but is even less hardy than T. urvilleana, and would be killed at 25F, and damaged much below 30F. It also blooms over a much shorter bloom season in our climate, typically only in late summer into early fall.

I also grow T. organensis which is a fall into spring bloomer that is quite attractive for milder SF Bay Area locations, but is also a goner below 25F, and also since it only blooms in late fall into winter, is probably not a good choice for colder locations.

I don't know of any other larger growing Tibouchina species in southern Brazil that you are likely to find that would even be as hardy as T. urvilleana. One species that I wish were hardy enough is one that is often seen in the Mata Atlantica in the states of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, T. granulosa. This one lights up the forested mountains of Rio and Sao Paulo, and is also quite often used as a street tree. I know they can grow this one in Florida, but know of none successfully growing here in California.

Another Ecuadorean Tibouchina species that does beautifully in east coast subtropical Australia from Sydney to Queensland, is T. lepidota. I wasn't able to get this one to grow for me here in Berkeley through a normal, not freezing winter, but would like to try it again, but it is not commonly available here in California. I know this one also does spectacularly well in Florida also.

I'd be interested to hear what Tibouchina species you expect to run across in far southern Brazil, especially at altitudes that potentially freeze. There are also other Melastomes that have been trialed here in the SF Bay Area at Strybing and UC Berkeley Botanic Garden, not all of them Brazilian, such as Monochaetums, but none have been particularly hardy to extended cold and winter wet.

The above followup was added by Bahia on November 02, 2007 at 3:39 pm PST.


The cold took out the Tibouchina urvilleana I had growing near the front steps, but frost would always defoliate it if it got to the temps Bahia mentions. There were some larger Tibouchina in town, but the freeze in January killed those (probably to the roots, but I think they were removed). In Pacific Grove, there is a house with a large one growing within a stone's throw of the ocean and always looks pretty good.

The above followup was added by Barry on November 02, 2007 at 3:52 pm PST.


standard t. urvilliana was killed to the ground here on the south oregon coast after last winters fairly severe frosts but came back (even those that were in containers) and some are even trying to push flower buds formed on the new growth.

The above followup was added by georgeinbandon,oregon on November 02, 2007 at 5:44 pm PST.

I have been talking to a botanist ...

in southern Brazil and he claims that around 1700-1800 m around the city of Urubici, Morro da Igreja (Church Hill) he has seen Bambusa, Escallonia, Hypericum, Fuchsia, Tibouchina and Gunnera growing. He calls these plants them
"Andean elements in the southern Rio Grande pine forests" (Elemento andino no pinhal sul-riograndense). We all know that Gunnera and other Bambusa do well here in Oregon, so I was wondering about the other plants. He is willing to go collect some seeds from the top of the mountain. I was going to have him get also seeds of :

Myrcianthes pungens (Guabiju) and Eugenia pyriformis (uvalha). These are edible plants and from about the same area as Feijoa sellowiana (Pineapple guava).
I thought that there were only grasses at this altitude but he claims there are other things. This is one of the pictures he sent me from the area.

The above followup was added by Marc Camargo on November 02, 2007 at 5:50 pm PST.

Another picture of the Church Hill

that he sent me.

The above followup was added by Marc Camargo on November 02, 2007 at 5:51 pm PST.

Escallonia growing coldest place Brazil

This is Church Hill (Morro da Igreja) em Urubici

The above followup was added by Marc Camargo on November 03, 2007 at 9:01 am PST.

Never fully recover

Most Escallonias seem to be fairly coldhardy, even the subtropical species. They regenerate readily from the base if they have to.

Oddly enough, Marc, Brazil has Fuchsias that seem to be more coldhardy than those of Chile. Southern Brazil was probably colder in its past than it is now. It has a lot of oddly coldhardy plants, like Passiflora caerulea and Feijoa sellowiana.

Tibouchinas are fairly common as expensive annuals in Seattle. They have been known to resprout from the base but I have never seen one actually recover and bloom again.

The above followup was added by Rob Wagner on November 03, 2007 at 11:36 am PST.

Fuchsia regia from Brazil

Rob good point. And the fuchsia from Brazil is not only winter hardy in zn 7 East Coast conditions, it is much more heat tolerant as well. The areas it comes from are not now nearly cold enough to "justify" such hardiness.

Escallonia 'Apple Blossom' is grown in the DC area with dieback only in some winters, so it must be rock-solid hardy in the PNW.

The above followup was added by David MD zn 7 on November 04, 2007 at 1:07 pm PST.


David, I'm impressed you tried Escallonia in DC. I did a double-take when I read that, because Chilean plants are rare in the East. You must have some rare plants relative to your neighbors. But if it can stand up to other hazards then it doesn't surprise me that it can resprout after the occasional hard freeze, because they just seem to have amazing regenerative abilities. Try rooting some cuttings some time--I've had roots start popping out in a few days, and new shoots within a few weeks.

>>it must be rock-solid hardy in the PNW

Probably, but I never realized it because they are surprisingly rare in the hinterlands. You see them mostly in the milder towns around the Sound. They go from ubiquitous (one of the commonest hedges and windbreaks) to rare within about 10 miles.

There are some species that are naturally deciduous and I would bet coldhardier.

>>And the fuchsia from Brazil is not only winter hardy in zn 7 East Coast conditions, it is much more heat tolerant as well.

I'm glad you told me that, because I wasn't sure. A lot of folks on the East Coast want to grow Fuchsias and they often post on a Fuchsia forum on which I often post advice.

Another freakishly hardy Brazilian Fuchsia is F. campos-portoi. It looks like F. magellanica to which it is obviously closely-related (probably one species before the Andes rose up) but it grows exposed and is more tolerant of heat and cold than average magellanicas.

>>The areas it comes from are not now nearly cold enough to "justify" such hardiness.

The very coldest parts of Brazil just aren't very cold. Brazil doesn't have any really high mountains, and the small southern coastal area is semitropical. It's weird when you find something like Passiflora caerulea that can survive in something like USDA z6 as a freezeback.

The above followup was added by Rob Wagner on November 04, 2007 at 10:56 pm PST.


Thanks. It was actually Green Spring Garden park in Alexandria, VA that showed everyone an Escallonia can be grown here. We are lucky in the DC area that in addition to the National Arboretum we have 3 excellent municipal gardens that tend to experiment. I'm also trying Escallonia X exoniensis next year. (not to be planted until spring) The E. 'Apple Blossom' is still a small plant and it will get a heavy mulch, something I usually don't bother doing.

I think some of these kinds of plants are grown here with the understanding that, just as a hard winter might take them out, a bad summer might take them out. I am certain some chilean shrubs simply won't take either our winters or our summers, but inspired by success with things like Fabiana, I plan to try a few more chilean shrubs next year. A Berberis from Chile was doing well this summer, before every last leaf was eaten off of it by rabbits. They must be tasty compared to rhododendrons.
My location (see post below) is probably more favorable for these plants in the summer than DC, but less so in winter, when we can definitely be colder.

The above followup was added by David MD zn 7 on November 09, 2007 at 9:27 am PST.

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