According to the Texas A&M University's Department of Horticultural Sciences, Admiral Louis de Bougainvillea discovered the vine in 1768 that would soon bear his name. The plant's discovery was made in what is today Brazil. The bougainvillea belongs to the plant family of Nyctaginaceae. It is an evergreen that produces long woody stems with thorns. The plant can be grown as a vine, bush or potted plant. Blossoms appear papery thin in bright colors of pink, purple, red yellow, apricot and white.
Culture of the Bougainvillea
Bougainvillea can easily be grown from cuttings that are placed in a perlite/peat moss mix. Cuttings should measure between 4 to 6 inches in length. The plant grows best in full sunlight. If the sunlight conditions of the plant are not met, severe leaf loss might occur. Care should always be taken when handling the bouganvillea's root system. The plant does not form a strong root system. Roots tend to be thin and hairlike, and are quite fragile.
Blossoms flourish on the bougainvillea 11 months out of the year. The plants do require heavy fertilizing to continue blooming. Use 20-20-20 fertilizer once a month on the bougainvillea to encourage growth and heavy flowering. Hibiscus food fertilizer can also be used. Follow the directions on the fertilizer's labels.
The bougainvillea produces the best growth and flower production when kept in a state of stress. To induce stress in the plant, keep the soil relatively dry. Water the plant but allow it to dry out for a few days between watering.
The bougainvillea is disease- and pest-free. Aphids will rarely accumulate on a stem or two of the plant but can be easily washed off using a strong spray of water from a garden hose.
The bougainvillea can easily be grown as a vine, bush, in a container or even as a bonsai specimen. For container growth it is best to keep the plant relatively root bound. The bougainvillea is very accepting of soil conditions. Many gardeners enjoy planting the bougainvillea at the base of a tree, fence or along a house so the plant can easily climb. The plant is requires tropical and subtropical climates to flourish. They can be grown in a greenhouse setting successfully. The bougainvillea does not do well as a house plant because of their extreme light requirements.