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Bougainvillea, spp.

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Zone 9-10

Said to be from Brazil, the Bougainvillea is also highly favored in the Mediterranean region. This vine grows well in both South and Central Florida as it enjoys cooler dryer weather than you might expect

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Bougainvillea is prized for its intense color with "blooms" all year. Maximum color in Florida, however, is in winter and spring when this vine is the most colorful

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Bouganillea can be treated as bonsai.  The vine below was displayed at our annual industry plant show here in Fort Lauderdale, January 2010

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Older vines produce better than younger individuals

There are many colors to choose from and there is a dwarf variety, which, unfortunately, is a typically a spotty (poor) bloomer

The color is not produced by the flowers which are very small but are enclosed by highly colored bracts which most folks think of as the flowers. The hot pink color you see in the photo are the bracts. In the open landscape, you need to closely examine a bract to see the small white flowers at the centers

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This vine is very thorny, sprawls wildly when young and produces many stems from the ground. It is very popular trained on a trellis as one would a climbing rose up north. Plant over walls, over docks, on fences or in pots with trellis.  Below you see off-season green then a change to flowers with change in weather / season

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Click here to see an excellent specimen in a pot

Here is another potted in one of our favorite mixed pastel combinations (one plant)

Proper pruning for control is required for pot culture. Proper pruning will also produce more color anywhere used.  Really cool is to handle Bougainvillea as a potted bonsai plant

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Bougainvilleas show their best colors in full sun

Homeowners complain about their vines but the reason is often lack of intense sun exposure frustrating full bloom appearance.  Full sun or near full sun is the only proper place to locate your Bougainvillea vine

Excess water is a close second reason the vine is not a showy specimen.  NEVER use automatic irrigation (shut off the sprinkler head spraying your vine).  Water as required by hand/hose and that's when your vine is stressed from being dry.  Same in pots:  water only when absolutely needed.  For example, during the rainy season in Florida, you may go 6 months with no added hand watering

Both in your landscape and in pots, insure excellent free flowing drainage.  In pots, use a lot of rocks at the bottom of your pot and then a very loose "pro mix" type soil based on Canadian peat moss with plenty of Perlite to loosen and add drainage capabilities 

Nutrients are also important.  A quality balanced fertilizer PLUS use of minor elements spray several times a year are the "tricks".  Use a low nitrogen formulation or a "bloom buster" formulation or sometimes you can find fertilizer labeled specifically for Bougainvillea.  Read our article about fertilizer here

Wind protection is desirable. Bougainvillea does not tolerate salt well

Bougainvillea colors include #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9 dwarf

Very old bougainvillea vines can be so large as to resemble trees.  Here is the tree-like base of this really huge bougainvillea vine