How to grow bougainvillea
Bougainvillea is actually a flowering vine, that is often pruned to remain shrub-like. It can also be pruned to be tree-like, or trained to grow over a frame.
A special quality of this plant, is that it can withstand amazingly arid conditions. It blooms for an extended period of time, both in the winter and summer months. The bougainvillea is one of the most well-known plants of the tropics. The actual flower is the small white flower surrounded by the colorful bracts, a papery leaf, hence its common name ‘paper flower.’
The colors of the bracts come in white, brilliant red, magenta, pink, deep purple and shades in between. For the best blooming, prune in late summer (September).
How do you plan on using it?
The bougainvillea can be a rangy plant if not pruned. If you will be pruning it often, a smaller space will do, otherwise, give it room to sprawl. It is good as a background specimen plant if allowed to spread. It can always be pruned drastically when it gets out of hand.
Very agreeable as to soil type
The bougaingvillea can grow in almost any soil, but it does not like wet feet for a long periods of time, so soil with good drainage is best.
Use as a container plant
It can do well in a large container. This container can be out on the deck, in the sun, in semi shade. Be aware, that if planted in a container, it will need pruning often. If you place it in full sun, it will need to be watered occasionally.
Fertilizer to be used
The best fertilizer is a granular, slow release fertilizer. Do not use a high-nitrogen formula, as that encourages growth over blooming. Put it around the plant in the early spring and midsummer.
It will bloom more abundantly during dry periods, so it is best that it is not included in any weekly automatic watering set-up. If it ever does show distress during a very dry period, water it moderately.
This is one plant that can take very aggressive pruning. If you decide you do not want to let it sprawl, feel free to prune it back as much as you want. New growth will begin in time. The stems give, so a sharp cutting tool is needed. As noted in the ‘Tips and Warnings’, the bougainvillea does have thorns.