Knowing how to choose and maintain your bougainvillea

It recalls the sunny Mediterranean regions and the dream vacations under the song of the cicadas! The bougainvillea, star of the facades of the south of the country, is the best choice to enjoy a decoration full of flowers for a good part of the year.

Bougainvillier aux bract
Bougainvillea with very colorful bracts

Color galore!

Bougainvillea is a climbing native to the tropics and subtropics of South America. Does this essential plant in gardening and decoration magazines appeal to you? Get to know her before embarking on her cultivation because she asks lots of sun and heat ! If all the conditions are right, bougainvillea is a vigorous plant and of rapid growth which covers itself with colorful bracts from May to October, or even much longer in the most privileged regions. Bright pink, fuchsia, mauve, red, yellow or white, the bougainvillea will not disappoint you and will adapt to your decor.

How to choose the right bougainvillea?

  • Choose a healthy topic, with well lignified stems at their base and producing new shiny green shoots.

  • Examine the underside of the leaves and under the bracts, often mealybugs can lodge there, you will recognize them by their mealy appearance. On the stems, the shield mealybugs take on another appearance, that of small round brown pustules stuck to the stem. Bougainvilleas kept in greenhouses are sometimes sensitive to whiteflies or thrips. Conclusion: if you see critters swarming on the plant, change your point of sale!

  • The wisest way to choose a bougainvillea remains contact a specialist or directly in the nursery if you live in a region where bougainvillea grows in the ground without worry. The specialist will be able to direct you to the most vigorous subjects and the cultivars that give you the most chances of success in your growing area.

  • In our latitudes, we mainly observe the varieties of fuchsia and red color, this is not a coincidence: whites, yellows and oranges are much more delicate !

  • Another point of verification before acquiring your bougainvillea: the pot. If the roots protrude excessively from the pot, or when pulling the motte the roots form a dense bun, forget about; Your plant will have a hard time recovering because it was in pain for a long time!

Specific growing conditions

Native to tropical areas, bougainvillea needs a exposition due south sheltered from cold winds and many hours of annual sunshine to produce its famous colorful bracts for long months.

The appreciates the presence of a wall whose material will restore heat long into the evening, which is why it is more often planted in front of it than in isolated bush. In tropical countries, it is sometimes grown on a stem forming over time a very colorful tree, even pruned into shrub grove to create low shimmering hedges and adorn vast beds.

In our regions, it really needs the warmth and protection of a south-facing wall. It will also grow more difficult on a pergola or a fence. About pergola: Unless you appreciate the constant presence of the broom in your hands, avoid planting your bougainvillea on a pergola over an entrance or a terrace because the bracts are constantly renewed and those that wither fall off at the slightest blow Wind !

Other specific need: a very drained soil, because this plant is afraid of excess humidity at the level of the roots it is also for this, that once well established, it perfectly resistant to drought ! Remember that a wet ground favors frost and this plant is not very hardy although it can withstand negative temperatures (0 to – 5 ° C depending on the variety).

The bougainvillea is satisfied with a loose soil, even stony or sandy soil with neutral to acidic pH. If you plant it in loam and clay, make a mound consisting of a mixture of soil, river sand and compost.

In less privileged regions, grow bougainvillea in a pot on a terrace or balcony in order to be able to overwinter in a very bright room and frost-free during the bad season. However, it is important to know that it is rare to succeed in this culture because this plant needs to drive its root system deep into the ground, it is therefore not made to live very long in a pot!

How to maintain your bougainvillea?

The cultivation of bougainvillea is very different depending on whether it is carried out in the ground or in a pot. In the first case (if heat, drained soil and sun are there), you will have almost no maintenance actions to provide more than watering. In the second, you will have to be constantly taking care of yourself.

  • In the ground, it will be necessary to water regularly only the first two summers to ensure recovery, then you will only water in case of prolonged drought!

    Bougainvillea has no need for fertilizer to bloom abundantly in the ground, on the contrary! A fertilizer too rich could promote the development of stems to the detriment of flowering.

    The size is not required but allows to keep a more compact and controlled habit while avoiding the vegetation clutter.

  • In a pot, the situation changes completely! Since the plant needs full sun and heat, evaporation will be very important in pots in summer. It will be necessary water copiously and regularly your bougainvillea. Let the substrate on 3 cm on the surface before watering again. Add liquid fertilizer to the irrigation water every two weeks. Another option: scratch a mixture of ground horn powder and dried blood at the foot of the plant from April and repeat the operation every two months until September.

    In autumn, when it is wintered, reduce watering and never leave water in the cup. It is also the right time for the trim so that it takes up the least space possible.

    Place it in a very bright room receiving at least morning or afternoon sun. The room should be kept above 8 ° C, the temperature where the leaves start to fall. If the room is poorly heated, reduce the water supply even further to water only when the substrate is almost dry.

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Source: Au Jardin, conseils en jardinage by

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