Newly Registered
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2010 11:01 pm
Location: Los Angeles

Is there hope for my Princess Plants?

I have two sickly Princess Plants (Tibouchina heteromalla) that I planted about 3 months ago. I had had one at the beach (in Southern California) that was as big as a house, hearty, and virtually care-free. The ones in question are planted further inland, in Culver City, where the air isn't as consistently moist. But I have neighbors with healthy, hearty specimens in their yards, while mine are getting more and more bare (yet, strangely, still blooming). A friend said that they are getting too much sun. (They get full sun almost the entire day, from morning to late afternoon.) But when I read about their care, I keep seeing "likes full sun." They supposedly like moist soil, but not too moist. My plants seem to drain well when watered, so I don't think they're getting waterlogged. I water every other day or every two days. I'm at a loss. Can anyone help?

Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7500
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 7:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

Here are some scraps of information I can give you from Sunset's Western Garden Book re. Tibouchina heretomalla:

"Evergreen shrubs; Zones vary by species; Partial shade in hottest climates; Regular water.

"Brazilian natives with showy flowers at branch ends and broadly oval, prominently veined, velvety leaves. Prefer slightly acid, fast-draining soil. Protect from strong winds, hard frosts. Pinch young growth to induce branching; prune out damaged or badly placed branches before new growth begins. If flower buds fail to open, check for geranium (tobacco) budworm.

"T. heteromalla. Zones 16, 17, 21-24; H1, H2. Shrub. To 4-6 ft. tall and wide. Silvery green leaves with silver undersides to 6 in. or longer. Dark purple, 1-1.5-in. flowers in 1.5-ft-long clusters from early fall into winter."

The Sunset climate zone map of "Los Angeles and Inland" shows some cities and towns by name. Fortunately for me, Culver City is one of them; it's on the line between Zones 22 and 24, so T. heteromalla should feel quite at home.

Here are possibilities I pick out from the Sunset language:

--Maybe the "slightly acid, fast-draining soil" isn't to its liking?

--I can't believe that Zone 22 qualifies as a "hottest climate" and therefore requires shade, but maybe in young or newly transplanted specimens, shade cloth is helpful until the plant becomes established....

--Or maybe it's simply settling in. Your neighbor's plants have been there for years; yours, for three months. Is this a possibility?

Hope all is well very soon.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

Return to “Trees, Shrubs, and Hedges”