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Facts on Bougainvillea Flowers

By Elizabeth Balarini ; Updated September 21, 2017
branche de bougainvillier image by MONIQUE POUZET from Fotolia.com

The bougainvillea--also known as the "paper flower plant"--is a flowering perennial plant. The plant is native to South America and is named for a French explorer. There are many varieties of the bougainvillea, with blooms in a range of colors that include white, cream, pink, purple, orange, and bi-colored. Some popular varieties of the bougainvillea include California Gold, Texas Dawn, Jamaica White and Double Pink.


Bougainvillea trained on arches
flower archway image by Svjetlana Puseljic from Fotolia.com

The bougainvillea is a vining plant that grows up to 30 feet tall. The plant can be pruned to be grown as a tree or shrub, or can be trained to vine up a trellis, pergola or arbor. The stems of the bougainvillea are covered in sharp thorns, and care should be taken when pruning.


Hot pink bougainvilla bracts surrounding white flowers
feuilles et fleurs du bougainvillier image by MONIQUE POUZET from Fotolia.com

The colorful, showy part of the bougainvillea is not actually the flower. These are colorful "bracts" which surround the true flowers. The bougainvillea flowers are short tubes that often open up to reveal tiny plain white flowers. Because the bracts are so colorful, many people never even notice that there are tiny flowers in the center.

Water Needs

White bougainvillea
bougainvillier blanc image by MONIQUE POUZET from Fotolia.com

The bougainvillea requires very little water. If it rains in your area once or twice a month, you will not need to supplement with additional hand watering. In arid locations, bougainvilleas need water weekly or bi-weekly through the spring and summer. During the fall, bougainvilleas need water only if there is no rain for a month. Bougainvilleas go dormant during the winter, and require no water at all during this time. Over-watering bougainvillea halts the production of flowers and may eventually kill the plant.

Soil Needs

Purple and white bougainvillea
burst of flowers image by rvvelde from Fotolia.com

Bougainvillea prefers soil that drains quickly and cannot tolerate sitting in wet soil. The bougainvillea's root system is delicate and rots when it is exposed to prolonged wetness. The plant grows best in loamy or sandy soil. If you have clay or rich, water-retaining soil, mix it with gardening sand or perlite at a ratio of 1:1 to provide proper drainage.


algarve 44 image by Nathalie P from Fotolia.com

Bougainvillea is a strong, prolific grower and grows easily from cuttings. Cuttings can be green or woody growth. To grow a new bougainvillea from a cutting, place a cutting that is at least 6 inches long into moist (not wet) soil. To hasten growth, use rooting hormone powder on the cut end of the cutting before planting it in soil.


About the Author


Elizabeth Balarini is a freelance writer and professional blogger who began writing professionally in 2006. Her work has been published on several websites. Her articles focus on where her passions lie: writing, web development, blogging, home and garden, and health and wellness. Balarini majored in English at the University of Texas at San Antonio.