Bougainvillea is a genus of thorny ornamental vines, bushes, or trees. The ‘flowers’ consists of large colourful sepal like bracts which surround three simple waxy flowers. It is native to South America.
This vine species grow anywhere from 1 to 12 m tall, scrambling over other plants with their spiky thorns. They are evergreen where rainfall occurs all year, or deciduous if there is a dry season. The leaves are alternate, 4 – 13 cm long and 2 – 6 cm broad. The actual flowers of the plant are small but each cluster of three flowers is surrounded by three or six bracts with the bright colours associated with the plant, including pink, magenta, purple, red, orange, white, or yellow.
They are heat and drought tolerant but frost sensitive. They need full sunlight, warm weather and well-drained soil to flower well.
Quite easy to grow as bonsai but they do need winter protection; to ensure flowering in the next season they need winter temperatures between 12 - 16° C. Prune hard after flowering. Water regularly, little and often. Heavy excessive watering will cause leaf drop. When first flower buds appear cease watering for a full week to frighten them into producing more flower buds; drought is threatening and the aim to reproduce. Never feed when in flower, preferably feed just in the Autumn. If leaves start to turn yellow, increase exposure to sun and give an iron rich feed.
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