Plants Management AustraliaBreeder creates a garden fantasy

Behind every new plant variety released onto the market usually lies years of experience. Many breeders work for decade’s just on one the genus, sourcing new genetics and crossing plants to try and find just the right balance of desired characteristics. They might be searching for a new flower colour, a better habit or a longer flowering period.

Terry Keogh

Nestled on the outskirts of Brisbane, Australia is plant breeder Terry Keogh. His property is surrounded by an extensive trial garden. Plant breeding is his passion and he’ll happily talk for hours about his breeding work.

Terry’s horticultural career began with a passion for fruiting plants, kicking off in 1980 by establishing a small avocado orchard. Terry moved on to actively breeding new varieties of plants in 1995 in response to customer feedback and trying to meet market demand for small manageable sizes. His first plant breeding projects included Callistemon, Pentas and Metrosideros.

Tibouchina ‘Groovy Baby’

Terry became fascinated with the beauty of Tibouchinas. He was taken with how these Brazilian natives make a real statement in the landscape, recognising the potential impact further flower colours could create. Terry explained:

“I decided to take a look at breeding them due to the overwhelming demand for other colours”

However, the Tibouchina breeding project wasn’t just focused on colour alone. Terry managed to introduce a strain of cold tolerant genetics into some of his varieties meaning that now those of us living in cooler climates can also enjoy their magnificent beauty. Usually restricted to the sub tropics, Terry’s new collection now has something for every climatic zone in Australia from Cairns to Hobart to Perth.

The first glimpse of Terry’s breeding program was the now well-known ‘Groovy Baby’. This dwarf stunner has been on the market for a couple of years and is famed for both its cold tolerance and its vivid purple flowers.

Tibouchina ‘Peace Baby’ stamens

Investing time, patience and energy over many years, Terry experimented with a variety of pollination and propagation techniques. This is an extremely trying genus – in the wild pollen is released from the stamens of Tibouchinas by the frequency of vibrations of hummingbird wings – not the easiest thing to replicate!

Tibouchina ‘Illusion’

Terry managed to achieve it, although he keeps the breeding secrets close to his chest. The best thing is though we can now all enjoy the fruits of his labour. Just released onto the market is the dazzling Tibouchina ‘Fantasy Flowers’ Collection. There are now five varieties available offering a range of flower colours, sizes and applications. Pick one for a bold potted statement or plant a living wall of colour with some of the taller varieties.

Tibouchina ‘Allure’

Tibouchina ‘Peace Baby’

Terry’s expertise is ground breaking. To our knowledge, there is no other active Tibouchina breeding program in the world. Terry’s Tibouchinas are expected to be one of the most successful collections Australia has seen in recent times.

[This post brought to you by Plants Management Australia]

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About Plants Management Australia

Plants Management Australia is an Australian based licensing and marketing company which manages the protection and introduction of new plant varieties across the globe. PMA represents the interests of independent breeders, providing professional management for new varieties and quality, transparent service.

20 thoughts on “Breeder creates a garden fantasy

  1. Wow! I want it! I want it! i want it in my garden! We have a couple of varieties here in south africa, but nothing like that. How great is it to have people in our industry with such passion and patience with plants to create these amazing varieties. Well done! And I truly hope they find their way to the south african market!

  2. Tasmania is FULL of tibouchina and I thought that we got pretty cold here? I have one in my own jungle/garden that is one of the most hardy plants I have ever met. I met an elderly gentleman who has the most amazing garden out in the middle of the bush who was a maple nurseryman when he lived in Victoria who escaped here to get away from the rat race (and the ex wife) who breeds Rhododendrons. He also has more than a handful of maples under his breeders belt and some of them are spectacular. I love meeting breeders and feeling their passion for what they do. Its a very exciting place to be 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment. The 2 dwarf varieties – ‘Groovy Baby’ and ‘Peace Baby’ perform exceptionally well in Tassie – great for pots on decks and at the front door.

  3. How interesting Amanda. What a delight that people like Terry do what they do. I love tibouchinas ..have a largeish Alstonville which flowers in deep purple profusion in winter … love the look of the Peace Baby and Illusion varieties Terry had bred and will try to get some for pots … Where wd they be avail? Usual outlets?
    You might also know …can I prune back the tibouchina alstonville successfully? It is getting leggy, but I don’t want to ruin it.
    Many thanks,

    • Hi Julie,
      You should be able to find the ‘Fantasy Flowers’ in all good garden centres and Bunnings stores.
      Tibouchina alstonville is able to be pruned. It’s always worth a quick call to your local garden centre to check the best procedure as they will be aware of the local environmental and climatic conditions of your area.

  4. Thanks Amanda. I picked up a Tibouchina Peace Baby at Bunnings today and have potted already at my front entrance. The sales assistant fell in love with it too, and sadly I bought the last one, but she will get first dibs of the new stock when it arrives, she claims.

  5. Hi Amanda, was wondering if you know of any issues with pests and disease that the tibouchinas have or are prone to?

  6. Hi Shawn,

    Tibouchinas are well documented to be pretty resilient to most pests and diseases. Over our extensive trials with the ‘Fantasy Flowers’ Collection we have had no recorded issues to date.

  7. Hi Amanda,

    Very sad to report the Tibouchina Peace Baby curled up and died, despite being potted with best quality mushroom compost, soil wetting agent, slow release fertiliser and placed in sunny position. Even moved it when it seemed to be struggling with the heat, to a semi shaded spot, but to no avail. Really really disappointed.. thought it should have done better.
    Stock came from Bunnings and for the price would have expected better. I am usually v successful with pots, so cannot figure out what went wrong.
    Should I try again?

  8. Hi Julie,
    Thanks for your feedback. It sounds like you have given it a little too much love. Mushroom compost is designed to really hold the moisture in and is traditionally used to improve the soil and not as a potting mix. This combined with the soil wetting agent would have made it far too wet. Although Tibouchinas do like a good drink whilst they are becoming established they need to be in a well drained soil. I would suggest trying again but plant in a good quality potting mix. If you buy a quality mix it will also have fertiliser and water crystals with it as well and you shouldn’t need to add anything else.
    I hope that answers your question.

  9. Thanks Amanda. I had a feeling I might have over sauced the pudding. Will repot and try again.
    I had a talk at the markets today with a nurserywoman who said her tibouchina “Peace Baby”s were thriving. So I am encouraged to have another go. Will have to be a different pot. That one has been claimed by a ruby mandevilla and she’s a showy beauty who wont give up her spot without a fight.

  10. I bought a groovy baby plant from my local bunnings store, while it flowers I find that the leaves are drying at the tips as if burnt the leaves then curl and fall off eventually, also a lot of the flower buds fell off the plant before reaching the stage of flowering. I first thought the leaves were getting burnt by the sun and so I moved the pot to another location where it would not get any of the late afternoon sun but some new leaves that grew also began to dry at the tip and curl. As i am new to gardening I would welcome any suggestions on how I can fix this

  11. Hi Jacqui,
    Thanks for the question. As there are so many factors involved with plants (location, potting mix, light levels, water etc) we usually recommend people go back to their local garden centre as they are best positioned to answer questions in their local area.
    If this doesn’t work for you, please get in touch with us via the PMA website ( and we will do our best to help you – some photos and further details about your growing conditions would really help us in this instance.
    Tibouchinas can drop their flowers when stressed so a first starting point would be to think about if you have just repotted the plant into a new location.

  12. Love the look of ‘Peace Baby’, but wondered if Terry has any recent releases that feature the white bloom on a larger shrub or tree?

  13. No recent releases, however you may like to check out Tibouchina ‘Chameleon’ – another of Terry’s ( the flowers open white and then age to pink – hence its name. It grows to approx. 2m in height.

  14. Can’t find Tibouchina Peace baby anywhere here on the Sunshine Coast,
    Queensland. I just love the look of it and have been to Bunnings, who tell me there is no stock available currently and it will be a few months before they have any. Is there a propagating issue at the moment? Would just love to get hold of about four.

  15. Hi Gail, I have checked with our suppliers for the Sunshine Coast. They have advised the following garden centres may have them in stock now – and if not right now, they will have them within 1 month:
    Manawee at Buderim
    Sanray at Nambour
    Rosemount at Nambour
    I hope that helps.

    • Amanda, many thanks for your quick response to my query. I can’t wait to obtain these beautiful Tibouchinas. I will keep calling Manawee until they arrive.

      Many thanks,\


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