Plant of the Month: Bougainvillea

Hannah Mitchell

July 20, 2021

Bougainvillea is a vibrant, drought-resistant evergreen vine, with colorful flower bracts that bloom all summer! This plant thrives in warm climates and loves well-drained soil. Bougainvillea was named after the French admiral Loui-Antoine de Bougainville. It is originally from South America, discovered in Brazil in the 1760s by French botanist Philibert Commerson.  

The bougainvillea's flowers aren't actually flowers at all, but modified leaves called bracts. These paper-textured bracts surround small white flowers, and come in a variety of colors such as pink, orange, purple, red, and most notably, magenta. Bougainvillea vines are also covered with spade-shaped leaves, and large thorns. These vines are capable of reaching over 20 feet at their peak.  

Bougainvillea usually blooms from April to December. It does best in full sun, and is very drought-tolerant once established. Poor draining and overwatering can lead to fungal growth, but otherwise, this plant is fairly resistant to pests and diseases. Best planted in spring, bougainvillea roots are sensitive, so be careful not to disturb them much when planting. Bougainvillea is a fast-growing plant, and should be watered weekly until established. As a low-maintenance plant, bougainvillea doesn't require too much pruning, unless you're cutting back to control its size. You can also try a gentler form of pruning called pinching, where fuller growth is encouraged by pinching off the growing tips of young plant stems. Fertilization is important for bougainvillea, but advice differs. Some gardeners recommended using hibiscus fertilizer in the spring and summer, and others say it needs monthly fertilization. If you have questions about fertilizing bougainvillea, reach out to the friendly professionals at LawnMore for tips and advice. For more specific planting and maintenance advice, see this article.  

Bougainvillea is dense and thorny, making it perfect as a barrier plant for property lines. It grows well on walls, fences, arbors, and even as a shrub if trimmed regularly as hedges are trimmed. It also grows well in pots, or dwarf varieties in hanging baskets. Contact your friends at LawnMore today to find out more about how bougainvillea would work in your own yard!

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