THE tibouchina 'fantasy flowers' collection was named one of Australia's 100 most innovative products in the Anthill magazine's 2012 'smart 100' index. In fact, it was in the top 50.
The collection has been bred by Australian plant breeder Terry Keogh.
His first plant breeding projects included callistemons, pentas and metrosideros.
In 1995, he began breeding tibouchinas, seeking to produce plants with a compact habit, long flowering period, and in a variety of colours.
Terry experimented with a variety of pollination and propagation techniques.
In Brazil, the home of the tibouchina, the pollen is released from the stamens by the frequency of vibrations of hummingbird wings.
This took a bit of replicating, give the absence of hummingbirds in Australia.
The 'fantasy flowers' collection includes a range of tibouchinas exhibiting different flower colours, habits and forms from dwarf varieties through to medium shrubs.
They are long flowering, and more cold-tolerant than their ancestors.
The first of the collection to be released, 'Groovy Baby', has been around for about 18 months or so.
It has proven to be immensely popular, with its huge, vibrant deep purple flowers borne in profusion on a compact plant growing about 60cm high and 80cm wide.
'Peace Baby' has been eagerly awaited by gardeners since the announcement of its release, and finally plants have become available.
It has a similar habit to 'Groovy Baby', growing about 60cm x 80cm.
It has stunning white flowers with delicate pink stamens. Like 'Groovy Baby', it is a fabulous pot plant.
'Allure' is a low-medium growing shrub that makes a statement with a profuse covering of large lilac flowers.
In the garden, 'Allure' will form a neat, dome-shaped shrub with a compact habit, about 1m tall and 2m wide.
With its dense, bushy habit, it will effectively suppress weeds. It will also perform well in a large container.
According to the promotional material, tibouchina 'Illusion' draws its name from its 'fantastic kaleidoscope of multi-coloured blooms.
The flowers open white with a blush-pink margin, then mature to deep pink tones creating an amazing display'.
Wow. It certainly is lovely, but I'm not sure about the 'kaleidoscope' concept.
It is taller than the others in the collection, growing about 2.5m x 2.5m. It would make a beautiful screen or hedge.
All of the tibouchinas in the fantasy flowers collection will grow happily in full sun or part shade.
They are not particularly fussy about soil type, but will benefit from the addition of compost at planting time, and a good layer of mulch to conserve moisture during the hot weather.
They will flower from spring through to autumn. With the exception of 'Illusion', they would be great container plants.
The smaller varieties won't even need much in the way of pruning.
'Illusion' might benefit from a light trim after flowering to keep it dense and prevent it from becoming leggy.
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