Bougainvillea 'Helen Johnson' (763x572)

Bougainvillea ‘Helen Johnson’

There is no doubt that the showy bougainvillea, bursting with profuse, colorful blooms, is the flowering star of tropical landscapes during the dry season.  The versatility of the various bougainvillea cultivars provides homeowners with many options for incorporating them into their landscapes.  The key to selecting the appropriate bougainvillea is to define its landscape function and then select a cultivar that is well-suited for that purpose.

There are dwarf and compact varieties that work well as groundcovers and border plantings.  Examples of the smaller cultivars are:  Helen Johnson, flame, Miss Alice, silhouette, and the BGI Flavored Ice® series.

The larger cultivars are grown as trained standards, clambering vines, large shrubs and/or hedges.   Examples of the larger cultivars are:  sundown orange, new river, Barbara Karst, James Walker, imperial Thai delight and Elizabeth Angus.

Bougainvilleas should be planted in full sun for optimal blooming.  They are drought tolerant and require good drainage.  Bougainvilleas are heavy feeders and will respond well to monthly fertilization during the bloom season with a high quality, controlled-release fertilizer with micro-nutrients.  They have very delicate roots which should be handled with care.  Some growers advocate planting them in their containers with the bottom removed in order to avoid disturbing the roots.  Careful tip pruning after a bloom cycle will encourage multiple new stems and more profuse blooms.

Bougainvillea 'Miss Alice' (759x571)

Bougainvillea ‘Miss Alice’

Bougainvillea 'Imperial Thai Delight' (1024x768)

Bougainvillea ‘Imperial Thai Delight’