Bougainvillea buttiana is a semi-deciduous plant that grows well in areas where there is little risk of frost damage. The plant is considered a low-maintenance evergreen vine that produces colorful flower bracts commonly used to make lei flower necklaces. Bougainvillea buttiana grows well along walls or in mounded areas where there is space to spread. The plant can be grown in hanging baskets in cool locations.
Bougainvillea buttiana is a climber that grows to a height of 20 to 40 feet and a width of 12 inches. The plant has medium-sized evergreen leaves and produces flowers that are orange, red, pink or yellow depending on the variety. Bougainvillea buttiana has heavy flower production when grown in areas with long day lengths and temperatures above 64 degrees F. Typical bloom time is from early summer to late fall. The plant is hardy to temperatures of 25 degrees F; however, frost will kill off the branches.
Bougainvillea buttiana is hardy to plant in USDA growing zones 9 through 11, where the risk of frost is low. It will grow best when planted in full sunlight in a well-draining soil that has a pH of 5.5 to 7.5. Sandy soils work well for Bougainvillea buttiana because it has low moisture requirements. The soil pH should be tested before planting, and ground rock sulfur should be added to lower the pH if needed.
Bougainvillea buttiana is tolerant of dry conditions and sensitive to heavy watering. Supplemental water should be given when the soil dries to a depth of 2 to 3 inches. The plant's fertilizer requirements are met by amending the soil with a high phosphate fertilizer at the time of planting and applying a balanced controlled-release fertilizer each spring.
Bougainvillea buttiana maintains a desired shape when pruned annually. Shoots that are not needed for flower or plant growth should be removed to shape the plant. Lateral shoots should be cut to a length where two to three buds remain on the stem to stimulate new plant growth. Plants that become overgrown can be cut back one-third the size by removing twiggy and weak growth. Suckers that grow out of the ground at the base of the plant should be cut back, as they use plant energy needed for stem growth.
Bougainvillea buttiana should not be pruned more than one to two times a year because pruning in excess limits the amount of flowers the plant produces. Applying fertilizer too often during the growing season encourages foliage growth but inhibits growth of flowers. Bougainvillea buttiana has a fragile root system that does not respond well to being moved and should be transplanted carefully to prevent damage. Pests are not a frequent problem for the plant.
While pests do not cause major problems for Bougainvillea buttiana, monitor the plant for aphids, whiteflies or mealybugs. The bugs can be removed by spraying the plant with a sharp stream of water. Insecticidal soap sprayed on the underside of the leaves will prevent further problems with the insects once they are removed. Adequate water and fertilizer applications to maintain the health of the plant will prevent problems since insects attack unhealthy and weak plants.