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Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Division: Magnoliophyta
  • Class: Magnoliopsida
  • Order: Caryophyllales
  • Family: Nyctaginaceae
  • Genus: Bougainvillea

Bougainvilleas are evergreen woody semi-vines with thorns, with masses of papery, petal-like bracts which surround tiny, tubular white flowers. They come in vibrant colours, ranging from bright red to crimson, magenta, purple, pink, orange, yellow, and cream, white, as well as pastels and blends.

In 1768, while visiting Brazil, South America, Admiral Louis de Bougainvillea, a French navigator discovered a plant and it was named after him. Bougainvilleas have colorful blooms, which are produced mostly in summer. It has a range of different colours. Around the flowers there are small tubes with three papery bracts around them. The flowers grow all over the canes and vines.

Bougainvilleas became an ornamental plant, although indigenous to tropical South America it can adapt to a wide range of climatic conditions. A favourite and very popular to countries with tropical climate.

The genus Bougainvillea contains several species. Many crosses among the various species of bougainvillea have produced new hybrid species . Popular hybrids are ‘Jamaica White,’Scarlet O’Hara’ and ‘Orange King.’

The latest addition is the dwarf and Bambino varieties which grow from two metres up to the largest varieties, which can grow to 30 to 40 metres up trees. They can even be shaped into a bonsai.

Bougainvilleas are vigorous and respond well to pruning and as a result they often are utilized as hedges in more tropical areas.

Although normally climbers, they can be trained to stay bushy as pot plants, hanging baskets, or as standard 3 or 4 feet high. Bougainvilleas make an ideal choice for warm climate gardens.

Gardening Tips

Bougainvilleas do not like having excess water around their roots, but likes free-draining soil. Bougainvilleas are easy to propagate. Cuttings strike easily and stems can be air-layered or pinned to the ground for several weeks, where they will develop roots.

Unless you have a lot of space to let the bougainvilleas to grow wild, bougainvillea will need periodic trimming. You should be careful when pruning your bougainvillea plants, they have thorns and they aren’t easy to handle!

It is best recommended that pruning is done once it has finished flowering. They are a vigorous plant and can be cut back at any time. The more they are pruned the more new growth will be encouraged to shoot and it is from this new growth that the new flowers will develop.

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