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BOUGAINVILLEA

Image of Bougainvillea

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Nyctaginaceae

Botanical Name

BOUGAINVILLEA

Plant Common Name

Bougainvillea

General Description

The genus Bougainvillea comprises about 18 species. They are woody, scrambling, thorny vines, shrubs and small trees native to South America. The genus is named for Louis Antoine de Bougainville, a French explorer who sailed around the world in 1767 and discovered the plant in the area of Brazil. There are several commercially important species and hundreds of cultivated varieties.

Generally, these plants are evergreen but some may be semi-evergreen for a short time during winter. The leaves are simple, heart or oval-shaped with pointed tips. The branches are usually woody and often grow long and twine.

Bougainvilleas are grown for their garishly bright blooms. The true flowers are small, tubular and inconspicuous but are surrounded by large, bright, papery petal-like leaves called bracts. Large clusters of the blooms appear at the ends of the branches in abundance during the late winter and early spring. A few are produced all year round when conditions are right. The bracts come in practically all colors of the rainbow. The fruit, when present, is long and resembles a green bean.

Culture and hardiness is species dependent, but most bougainvilleas prefer sunny, warm conditions and require very well-drained soil. They tend to be drought tolerant, but look best with occasional applications of water. Be careful with water, fertilizer and pruning because too much of any of these will reduce or completely curb flowering.

Hot, tropical color and a tough habit make Bougainvillea popular plants for landscapes in frost-free climates. Plant form dictates use. Some are large rambling lianas while others are very compact. Bougainvillea may be planted as free-standing specimens, hedges, trailing vines or groundcover plants. They are also popular as container or greenhouse specimens where not hardy.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 5, 6, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Native To

    South America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Fruit Color

    Green, Brown

  • Bark Color

    Green, Brown, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Groundcover, Hanging Basket, Hedges, Rock Garden / Wall, Topiary / Bonsai / Espalier, Tropical, Vine

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes