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.
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.