Bougainvillea [boo-guhn-vi-lee-uh], a member of the Nyctaginaceae family, bursts with vibrant colors during the warmer months, typically blooming from late February through early May in central Florida south.
These gorgeous plants flourish in subtropical climates and are the perfect plant for Florida.
The Bougainvillea and its subspecies are popular in their native South American countries, such as Colombia, Brazil, Peru, and Argentina.
The subspecies are:
- B. Glabra
- B. Spectabilis
- B. Peruviana
There are also many hybrid Bougainvillea as a result of species crossing.
The popular hybrids are:
- Jamaica White
- Scarlett O’Hara
- Gold Rush
- Raspberry Ice
- Orange King
- Don Mario
This perennial pop of color can bring light to any yard and your home if you choose.
Bougainvillea plants grow in many ways, making it a diverse plant. It does require a bit of pruning to keep up with maintenance.
Bougainvillea Care Tips
The Bougainvillea is durable and able to survive in drought conditions. But, this plant does need a bit of care to flourish and flower properly.
Bougainvillea is recommended for USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 9 – 11.
Size And Growth
The Bougainvillea can also be grown and shaped into a variety of forms. Prune it into a standard, train the branches to run along fences and walls, hang it in baskets, or plant it as a shrub, accent plant, a vine for trellis or hedge.
The Bougainvillea glabra species, aka “paper flower” or “lesser Bougainvillea,” reaches 10′ – 12′ feet. In contrast, the larger Bougainvillea spectabilis, or “great bougainvillea,” reaches 15′ – 40′ feet.
Bougainvillea Flowers And Fragrance
While the Bougainvillea has small flowers, they bloom in close clusters surrounded by colorful bracts.
Like Lavender or Poinsettias, these bracts are responsible for their famous rich colors. But the actual flowers tend to be white.
The bracts bloom vibrantly and come in a variety of colors such as:
Depending on your location, the Bougainvillea blooms in Florida typically from late February to May. A blooming Bougainvillea in spring puts on quite a show!
The Bougainvillea is physically bold and bright and grows extremely large.
Its scent is quite simple and understated. Its fragrance is sweet, delicious, and subtle, like a Honeysuckle.
Light And Temperature
The Bougainvillea requires full sunlight and climates not prone to harsh winters. This makes Florida the perfect location for it.
Florida is also ideal since the Bougainvillea is native to sub-tropical regions and has a high salt tolerance.
When deciding where to place your Bougainvillea, make sure it will receive full and direct sunlight.
Watering And Feeding
Florida provides both the climate and the sun needed for the Bougainvillea to thrive and blossom. But the frequent rainfall during Florida summers poses a slight problem.
Bougainvillea grows best in dry soil and doesn’t need much water. Occasional deep waterings is best. While a little rain won’t hurt, a lot of water won’t help. The same goes for fertilizing Bougainvillea.
Overfeeding your Bougainvillea will cause it to produce more leaves than blooms.
Fertilize established plants in late summer with a bloom booster fertilizer.
Soil And Transplanting
Native to arid regions, the Bougainvillea thrives in drier well-drained soil. It will not tolerate soggy soil.
If you’re growing your Bougainvillea as a houseplant or in a hanging pot, repot it annually.
When transplanting, be careful as the Bougainvillea’s roots don’t hold to the soil well.
It helps to cut back the roots about 1″ – 2″ inches and then repot the plant in either the same container or one of equal size.
Grooming And Maintenance
Pruning is the critical grooming method for maintaining your Bougainvillea.
NOTE: Prune in spring for shape and also remove any dead wood.
Pull out your pruning shears and prune Bougainvillea after it flowers in either the late winter or early spring. You can also prune it during Florida’s rainy season.
If you prune at the wrong time or if you prune too much, your Bougainvillea won’t bloom properly, which is a shame since its beautiful blooms are its claim to fame.
It’s best to prune your plant back within two or three buds of the main stems. This helps with overcrowding and keeping the Bougainvillea’s desired shape.
Wear gloves and watch your hand placement as you prune the thorny branches.
NOTE: There are a thornless variety and several dwarf varieties.
How To Propagate Bougainvillea
- Save the pruned stems as these allow for Bougainvillea propagation.
- These stem cuttings should be at least 1/8″ inch thick and have at least three nodes.
- Drip cuttings in rooting hormone powder
- Plant several stem cuttings together in 4” pot.
- Space the cuttings 1″ – 2″ inches apart.
- Plant them in a moist soil of sand and peat or a perlite and peat mixture.
- Cover with plastic to retain moisture
- Place potted cuttings in bright indirect light
- Cutting should begin to root in 4-6 weeks.
The ideal time to propagate your Bougainvillea is during the summer and lasts anywhere between 4 – 12 weeks.
Bougainvillea Pests Or Diseases
Bougainvillea can flower in stress and withstand droughts, making them durable plants. Their durability includes withstanding pests and diseases; yet, they aren’t impervious.
Fungal and bacterial leaf spot diseases can affect your Bougainvillea as well as pests such as aphids, scales, and mealybugs.
To prevent pests and diseases, prune your Bougainvillea regularly. A lack of pruning and proper maintenance leads to overcrowding and tangling. This will invite pests and diseases. Rejuvenate old potting soil with compost, fresh soil, or store-bought plant nutrients. It is up to you to decide what is the best choice for your plants.