Growing Bougainvillea is fun whether you want to cutlivate it as a potted plant, grow it vertically up a wall, on a trellis or as a tree. Some people prune Bougainvillea as a Bonsai artistic endeavor. I like Bougainvillea best for the winter color it provides when the landscape is somewhat drab.
Considered a woody clambering vine, there are 300 varieties around the world.
Bougainvillea is named after Louis Antoine de Bougainville, a Frenchman who was friends with French naturalist Dr. Philibert Commercon. Commercon actually discovered the Bougainvillea plant in Rio de Janeiro in 1768.
With thorny canes, the Bougainvillea is sometimes planted as a security barrier in tropical and subtropical climates such as Florida and California.
A member of the family Nyctaginaceae or four-o’clock family, Bougainvillea is a semi-evergreen that withstands light frosts. It’s breathtaking bracts, that have a papery feel, come in colors red, orange, purple, lavender, yellow, cream, pink, white, apricot, bi-color.
Here are some tips for growing the Bougainvillea vine or trees:
No. 1: Choose your Bougainvillea variety. Bougainvillea spectabilis is a large climber with bracts that are crinkled and large. These Bougainvillea colors include rose, purple and rusty red.
Bougainvillea peruviana is a looser branching habit. The thorns become curved as they get older. This Bougainvillea colors include dark magenta colors.
Bougainvillea glabra has thinner branches and pointed triangle-shaped bracts. These Bougainvillea colors include whites, purples, mauves and lilacs. The thorns are short, thin and curved at the tips.
No. 2: Bougainvillea pruning and Bougainvillea bonsai: To make a topiary and Bougainvillea Bonsai, simply get out a pair of pruning shears and let your imagination run wild. You can’t really make a mistake because the Bougainvillea can be pruned anytime of the year. The Bougainvillea’s bloom cycle is not affected by pruning.
No. 3: Bougainvillea Zone: The Bougainvillea grows best in Zones 9 to 12. It is native to South America and likes full sun. Just plant away from where the children play since it is thorny.
No. 4: Bougainvillea tree and vine like well-drained soil. If you want more Bougainvillea blooms, water less frequently. Bougainvillea is ideal for xeriscaping, which is landscaping with no irrigation or supplemental watering. It can handle short periods of drought.
No. 5: Bougainvillea fertilizer: Bougainvillea likes monthly feedings with fertilizer specifically designed for Bougainvillea. Don’t be worried if they drop their leaves. They do that in the winter for a short time.
Bougainvillea can grow to be quite large. Prune to keep in check. Some people like training Bougainvillea to grow up oak trees. They do provide a tropical feel to a yard. I’ve seen some neighbors make the mistake of planting Bougainvillea at the entrance to their Florida homes. It is too thorny for such placement. Plant away from areas where children play!
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