Bouvardia is a genus of tender flowering perennial shrubs native to the Sonoran desert of Mexico. Bouvardia is grown for its softly scented multibloom flower heads that come in red, pink or crisp white. The white blooming varietal is commonly used in wedding bouquets and arrangements similarly to stephanotis. Bouvardia blooms from the summer through the winter and is hardy in USDA zones 9 through 11. Patience and attention are the watchwords when planting bouvardia because it has a reputation of being somewhat finicky to grow.
Select a site for your bouvardia that affords a full sun to partial daily shade exposure. Site the plant where it will be protected from strong, cold or drying winds. Bouvardia can wilt from drought easily. Its stems are rather thin and brittle and frost can be deadly so a protected microclimate location is ideal. Bouvardia can be planted directly into the garden soil or in containers, provided the above environmental conditions are met.
Provide a nutrient-rich soil that drains easily. Amend the planting soil with generous amounts of compost and/or well aged manure to boost soil fertility. Feed the plant with a balanced-formula, water-soluble fertilizer once a month from the early spring through early fall according to label dosing directions.
Water your bouvardia to keep the soil evenly moist but not consistently wet. Depending on your climate and time of year, water every other day to once every seven days to maintain soil moisture. Mulch the soil around the plant with shredded bark or cocoa hulls to conserve moisture and keep weeds at bay.
Deadhead spent flowers to prevent seeding and encourage fresh bloom. Hard prune the plant in the fall or winter to control its shape and size if needed and as desired. Place cuts at least a quarter inch above a leaf node to encourage continued branching. Remove any damaged or diseased stems or foliage as you see them throughout the year.
Harvest bouvardia blooms on long stems for use in cut-flower arrangements. Harvest just as the first small blooms on the stem are opening by cutting at the base of the stem with clean sharp secateurs. Store cut stems in a clean vase of fresh cool water out of direct sunlight. Use floral preservative in the water and remove any foliage that falls below the water line. Change the water every day to optimally extend the life of the cut blooms.