Bougainvillea - Bougainvillea glabra
Bougainvillea, named for a French navigator, is a
native of South America and is grown extensively in the
climates of the United States. It is a member of the
family with close relatives being the four o'clock and
verbena. Bougainvillea is an evergreen vine which is
just as happy
spreading horizontally or hanging downwards as it is
it makes itself at home in almost any situation. It can
be grown as a
hedge, groomed as a ground cover, pruned as an espalier,
trained as a
tree or contained in a pot in a variety of shapes. Its
trunk tends to
be gnarled. Bougainvillea is ideal for bonsai. Red,
yellow or white bracts which appear on the ends of new
Available in nurseries and from bonsai specialty
growers. A good
source is from old gardens being redesigned and from
trash piles where
a frustrated homeowner has thrown the thorny plant.
They flower most heavily in winter and early spring, but
put forth scattered clusters all year. The colors are
found in tones
of purple, lavender, carmine, scarlet, red, pink,
orange, yellow and
white. Single and double flower forms are available.
Double forms tend
to carry their blooms near the end of the stems rather
distributing them evenly over the plant. The colorful,
are not flowers; they are bracts. The true flower is
shaped and almost unnoticeable within the bracts.
available in a variety of species, each having its
Lighting: Full sun.
Temperature: Being a warm weather plant, they must be
protection. They can usually tolerate die back from a
freeze, but will
withhold blooms for awhile.
Watering: Sparse to
light watering and good drainage.
once in the spring with a low nitrogen fertilizer
and maybe once again in the fall. The old established
forcing flowers is to withhold water to a point of
stress to the plant. Research at the University of
Florida has found
that plants flower best when given high nitrogen
fertilizers and short
day lengths (15 hours of darkness within ever 24 hour
Pruning and wiring:
The bougainvillea takes well to pruning; a useful
attribute in styling bonsai. Because bougainvillea
generally blooms on
new growth, each branch, as blooms begin to fade, should
be cut back
to a point somewhat shorter than the desired length.
Seal all cuts to
prevent rot. If rot is detected on a collected specimen,
cut it out
Bougainvillea may be grown from air layers, root
and branch cuttings. Young shoots, a few inches in
length, should be
placed in sandy soil with bottom heat and moisture.
old wood cuttings in six to twelve inch lengths may be
rooted April to
Repotting: Repot in
Spring. Do not prune the roots too severely.
Pests and Diseases:
Caterpillars, aphids, scale, greenfly and mineral
deficiencies (chlorosis). Care must be taken that fungus
invade the tree; reduced humidity and a preventive
fungicide will help greatly.