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A true tropical exotic, in its natural environment this showy climber produces such dense and vivid color on 15-ft/4.5-m trailing stems that it outshines almost everything else in the vicinity.
Its strong twining branches, which carry narrow, smooth, 3-in/8-cm-long leaves, have vicious barbs. This drawback is, however, more than compensated for when the colorful papery bracts, some lVanMcm long, appear at the beginning of summer.
Bougainvillea can be most frustrating to grow as a houseplant, for it is reluctant to flower in limited light. Fine indoor specimens can, however, be grown beside large windows and in greenhouses or sunrooms.
Although a climber, this plant can be trained to keep it bushy indoors—wire hoops have become popular supports—and there are some dwarf types that do not require special training.
Bougainvillea glabra, with purple-pink bracts in summer and fall, is the species most easily obtained. This, and the less vigorous B. x buttiana, have given rise to dozens of hybrids with a range of highly colored bracts, many being smaller than the species.
HEIGHT To 15ft/4.5m.
POTTING MIX Soil-based.
REPOTTING When new growth appears in spring, move the plant into a pot one size larger. When a pot size of 8in/20cm is reached, simply top-dress the plant.
PROPAGATION Not easy. In late spring or early summer put 3-4-in/8-10-cm stem cuttings in a heated propagator.
KEEPING PLANTS If the plant becomes straggly, prune it lightly in fall. But flowering is better if new growth is wound around established stems and tied in.
Bougainvillea Glabra Nyctaginaceae PLANT CARE Guide
- Bougainvillea needs 4 hours of direct sunlight daily. Place in a sunny window close to the glass, but do not allow it to bake in hot weather. Set outdoors in summer, if possible.
- Minimum winter temperature of 50°F/10°C.
- Water well during active growth, but the plant must not stand in water; do not water in winter until new growth appears.
- Apply a high-potash feed every 2 weeks in spring and summer.