Friday, October 23, 2009

Bloody Bougainvillea




Have you ever found a plant that you just love but still ya hate ‘em. Well, Bougainvillea is just that sort of plant for me. I absolutely love to gaze upon the incredibly intense colors of the blooms and I truly hate pruning them.
 

This comes after a couple of decades working with these guys in the landscape industry. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stabbed by thorns, raked by thorns, stepped on thorns or fixed flat wheel barrow tires from thorns. As far as I’m concerned the only good Boug is one that is in someone else’s landscape.


That said there is one exception and that is the Dwarf Boug. That cultivar is one that just may find its way into my gardens. Dwarfs are a very low maintenance plant that requires almost no pruning if properly sited.


Yet for all the brutal issues I have with Bougs there is nothing more spectacular than this plant in full flower or should I say “full bract” for the flowers of Bougs are an insignificant white little guy and the modified leaves are the showy heart stoppers we all love.



Bougs can grow to 30’ with support which means most are improperly located in home landscapes. From a pruning perspective this can be a nightmare if the plant is near a walkway. One way to deal with the sprawling growth habit is to allow the plant to climb a tree particularly if the flowers of the tree are insignificant.



Bougainvillea bloom best during the dry season(fall and winter here) and an established plant needs little fertilization. There are an abundant number of hybrids, colors, and variegations but they tend to lose their horticultural identities down here and are commonly referred to by color.



The plant is easily propagated by cuttings and I have seen 4” thick by 4’ long branches rooted making for an instant standard container plant.


Bougainvilleas are native to South America and are named for Louis Antoine de Bougainville, a French explorer who sailed around the world in 1767. B. spectibilis and B.glabra are the species most frequently found.


So to all those gardeners out there who grow this plant I say THANK YOU and I shall be more than happy to gaze upon your boug with awe, heap horticultural praise upon you, listen with sympathetic ear, and pass you a Band-aid.

24 comments:

Mary Delle said...

So true about the bougainvillea. In my small garden I grow it in a pot.

janie said...

I have only one, grown in a far corner of the garden. I think it is beautiful, but not my favorite either, because of the thorns.

How do you go about propagating this plant anyway? I have never had much luck with them.

Helen said...

My mother in law's condo has a new living wall at the entrance indoors, and I was surprised to see that they had planted it with bougainvillea. This is a fairly dark entry, with an east-facing window at right angles to the wall. We're just getting into winter up here above the 49th parallel. The root zone looks to me to be about a half gallon of soil per plant; each a vine of about ten feet. What do you think the chances are of this surviving...? My guess is: slim.

Carol said...

We have a "love-hate" relationship with ours...I love it...my husband hates it..it seems to jump out and grab him everytime he walks by. You have so many beautiful ones.

www.wildlifearoundus.blogspot.com

jeansgarden said...

Gorgeous!! Thanks for sharing with us cold climate gardeners who will never see one of these in our garden.

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

I had no idea that there were so many colors! The only one I saw was the bright pink. I need to keep my eyes open! Thank you Scott!

Rebecca @ In The Garden said...

Absolutely beautiful!! I've heard all sorts of wonderful things about them, but like many others in a cold zone, have had very limited exposure to them I really like the white one, with light pink highlights.

azplantlady said...

Hello Scott,

Amen! You either love or hate Bougainvillea. I do love how beautiful they look too - I have 3. They do suffer frost damage in my 8B zone, but grow back quickly.

Your photos of all the different colors are beautiful. Hopefully after reading it, people will realize that there are more colors available then the deep magenta.

Wendy said...

I am so stupid, but I did not know they had thorns!! Your bougainvilleas are gorgeous though and I know you love to hate them, right? We can all tell by how happy your beautiful bougs. are!

Amy said...

I have never seen bougainvillea like those! A lot of work it sounds like, but they sure are BeAuTifUl!

Kimberly Cockroft said...

I grew up in Kenya and one of my favorite memories is the bougainvillea that rambled everywhere--through hedges, even up trash piles. There is nothing, nothing like a papery bougainvillea blossom.

Rosey Pollen said...

Such spectacular colors... I am drooling over your Bougainvillea!
That is the one thing I dislike about our climate, can't grow these tropical beauties!
Is that a new header? FABU!
Rosey

Town Mouse said...

i gave up on them after the second one froze. lovely photos!

Barbara said...

What absolutely gorgeous photos. That's one plant that will never grow in my garden, just too cold and dark, but they must be just right in the Florida sunshine. Much better than in pots like the half-dead one in my office building.

Jacqueline D'Elia said...

Scott, I love those Bouganvilla close up photos. Nice job on capturing them. Wish they did not have thorny spines with those colorful bracts.

Rusty in Miami said...

Yes I agree 100%, it is the only plant in my garden that I have a hate love relationship; any other would have been long gone. Every time I get those beautiful blooms I tend to forget about the pruning. I am putting most of my plants in containers and that helps a little, but they don’t bloom like the one on the ground

islandgal246 said...

They do bring out the best and the worst in us. I have a few in the garden and in pots but I keep far away from them.

Jim Groble said...

Your pics are great. In the summer our yard is mostly green in all different shades. The color of our flowers is more subtle because of all the shade we have. With your permission, I will add your blog to my blog list on my site.

calann621 said...

Your blog makes me cry! From the beauty of it. Those orchids! Keep posting pictures, you will help me get through the cruel winter here in northern Virginia.

The Violet Fern said...

Wow, I wish I could grow one of these on my porch! You know, I never knew they had thorns! I will have to look more closely come winter get away time ...

Sue said...

I always enjoy seeing bougainvilleas on others' blogs. I took some photos with my phone of some in a greenhouse at a nursery an hour from where I live. I'll have to get them out for skywatch some time. I think I included bits of the sky out of the greenhouse top.

The ones you have here sure are pretty! I like the light colored one toward the end. Now, I can't remember what color was sprinkled on it, maybe pink.

Thanks for your comment on my blog, Scott. We had to eat out this evening because I have the dining room torn up. I am thankful that we had rain today, and not snow, like parts of our state got.

Linda said...

I was first introduced to Bougainvillea while in Israel.When I went to inspect it, I was surprised to find what I thought were flowers were actually leaves. It's a gorgeous plant but alas won't grow where I live.

Urban Garden said...

What a lovely bunch of photographs..
My bougainvillea all grow in pots on my roof top potted garden. Their roots have all popped out from under the concrete pots, does that affect their growth ?

ibrahim said...

I just love Bougainvillea.. It's a wonderful plant specially in summer!! the colors are so bright.