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How to Grow and Care for Bougainvillea

How to Grow and Care for Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea is a vibrant, flowering vine that climbs trellises in beach towns and desert resorts from San Diego to Miami. If you need a hardy, tropical plant with oceans of color that can withstand heat and drought, bougainvillea is your plant.

Bougainvillea is tough, fast growing and a spectacular display of color all year round. These vines are flowering machines that look great climbing a wall, spreading on hills as ground cover, or pruned and grown in containers. Here’s what you need to know about growing bougainvillea.

Bougainvillea is native to Central and South America and is commonly grown in southern Florida, Arizona, southern Texas and southern California. Established vines can withstand a light frost, but you’ll need to bring them indoors for the winter when temperatures drop below 25 degrees.

Bougainvillea vines are fast-growing and have stiff stems with thorns covered in heart-shaped leaves. Your vines can grow up to 40 feet tall with support. Low-growing, shrubby strains only grow a few feet tall and can be grown in containers.

Bougainvillea flowers come in purple, red, orange, white, pink, and yellow. But these flowers aren’t actually flowers at all. The paper-like structures are a modified sheet called a bract that hides the true blooms of bougainvillea: small, trumpet-shaped flowers of white and yellow.

Plant bougainvillea
Bougainvillea needs a lot of sun. Plant one in a shady spot and you won’t get the riot of blooms — the whole point of planting bougainvillea. You get vines and thorns. She needs at least six hours of sun a day.

The soil must be well drained. They don’t like staying wet for too long and can get root rot in heavy soil. They like gritty, loose soil.

Be careful with the root ball. Bougainvillea roots are thin and easily damaged when transplanted.

Water after planting and then weekly until the plant is established. Once it is established (which generally takes a year or two), stop watering it except during periods of extreme drought. Bougainvillea likes it dry.
Caring for Bougainvillea
Prune your plant all year round, but especially in late winter before the new growth cycle. For best flowering, cut back all branches to 20 feet or less. Bougainvillea flowers on new growth, so you can prune after each bloom cycle.

Cut off the ends of the vines that are about to flower. You get a denser representation of the bracts.

If you rain regularly once the vine is established, you won’t need to water. Bougainvillea likes it dry. She prefers a good, deep watering every three or four weeks to frequent shallow watering. Water a bougainvillea too much and it can get fungal diseases and root rot.

Bougainvillea blooms better when kept on the dry side. Too much water will result in lots of green growth and fewer blooms. keep it dry

Cold is a problem. These tropics don’t like going below 30 degrees. They can endure a night or two of light frost, but anything else and they will die. Established vines can withstand a periodic cold snap better than newly planted ones.

Don’t fertilize it. This tough plant doesn’t need it. But fertilize the soil around him with compost. A 3 inch layer of compost in the spring is sufficient. If you need to fertilize, use a palm and hibiscus feed.
Training bougainvillea
Higher growing bougainvilleas need support or they will become ground covers. Since they are twining vines and don’t have any vines to attach to walls, you’ll need to tie them down. They can be trained on a trellis, over an arbor, on a fence, or on top of a structure. Use strong ribbons and tie them well as bougainvillea branches can be heavy.