Bouvardia Flower Care: Learn To Grow The Firecracker Bush

The lovely Bouvardia flower [boo-VAR-dee-uh] is a compact, shrub-like plant producing gorgeous trumpet-shaped blooms.

It is a late bloomer with white, red, hot pink, or yellow flowers depending on the variety. It makes an excellent option for adding a little color to your porch in the late fall.

Bouvardia is named after Charles Bouvard (1572 -1658), superintendent at the Paris, Jardin du Roin.

The genus includes about 30 flowering shrubs. Common names include:

  • Hummingbird flower
  • Firecracker bush

Red Flowers of the Bouvardia plant up close

The plant belongs to the Rubiaceae family and is native to Central America and Mexico. It is commonly grown as an ornamental plant and thrives in bright sunlight.

As houseplants, Bouvardias add a splash of color and are easy to maintain. These plants need plenty of sunlight, some TLC, and the following care tips.

Bouvardia Flower Care

Size and Growth

This bushy plant reaches heights of two feet and grows at a medium rate.

However, when placed in ideal conditions, such as a greenhouse or enclosed porch, it may reach up to four feet.

Bouvardia is recommended for USDA hardiness zones 8 to 11. It is an easy plant to grow.

Most people only keep it for a couple of years, as it needs to be cut back after flowering.

Flowering and Fragrance

The bloom starts in September and may last through December.

The Bouvardia produces long, tubular flowers appearing in clusters at the end of black or dark green stems.

These flowers may be red, yellow, or white, depending on the variety purchased.

Some varieties are known to have a fragrance resembling fresh jasmine.

Light and Temperature

Light shade or full sun are perfect for the Bouvardia.

Bouvardias enjoy cool temperatures, hovering between 55° – 60° degrees Fahrenheit.

Maintaining cool temperatures in most areas is difficult, even when grown indoors.

While it can tolerate lower temperatures, it doesn’t do well in frost or freezing temperatures.

Watering and Feeding

Water the plant regularly, ensuring that the soil doesn’t completely dry out. It needs frequent watering throughout the year, even during the winter.

The soil should be moist, but not soggy.

Feed plants during the summer and flowering season. Feed the plant once per week during these periods.

Soil and Transplanting

Bouvardias require rich soil with good drainage. When grown indoors, the plant doesn’t need a large container. A small five-inch or six-inch pot offers enough room to encourage healthy root growth.

Repot the plant each year while trimming the roots as needed. After three years, stop transplanting the plant annually.

When the plant matures, instead of transplanting, remove the topsoil and add fresh soil each year.

Grooming and Maintenance

To keep the plant flowering each year, cut back the stems after flowering to within 1 inch of their base in February.

TIP: Pinch the young stems once or twice during the springtime to encourage bushier growth.

How to Propagate Bouvardia

Propagate Bouvardias from root cuttings or stem cuttings.

Take root cuttings before the spring, preferably in January or February.

Look for the thickest roots and cut 1″ inch to 1.5″ inch pieces. Scatter these pieces on top of a layer of soil with a mixture of peat moss and sand.

Add a half-inch of the same soil on top of the cuttings.

Set the container or pot in a room that stays about 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take stem cuttings in the spring or summer. Look for new shoots and take 2″ inch long cuttings.

Dip the tips of the cuttings in hormone powder and place in the same soil recommended for the root cuttings.

Cover the pot or container with plastic and cut holes for ventilation. Place the stem cuttings in a warmer area. They do best in temperatures up to 80° degrees Fahrenheit.

The stem cuttings typically take about six to eight weeks to take root. The root cuttings should start sprouting new growth in a couple of weeks.

Bouvardia Pests or Diseases

Bouvardias are hardy plants but, aphids may occasionally present a problem.

Luckily, remove aphids easily by spraying the plant with cold water. If the aphid infestation is severe, spray the plant with an insecticide like neem oil.

While it’s a hardy plant, soil lacking nutrients can cause the leaves to pale and fall over.

Normally, feeding is only recommended once per week. If the leaves start to droop and turn pale, increase the feeding frequency.

Suggested Uses For Bouvardia Flowers

Bouvardias thrive when the roots have plenty of room to grow. Choose a large pot and place it in a bright window with lots of sunlight.

They grow well in enclosed porches, conservatories, and greenhouses and find uses as wedding flowers.

Grow outdoors as a small shrub to attract hummingbirds and butterflies.