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Everything You Should Know About the Bougainvillea Plant

Chandramita Bora Dec 1, 2018
Bougainvillea is a genus of flowering plants or vines used as ornamental plants. They bloom several times throughout the year, and look beautiful in a yard or garden. Find out more about these flowering plants and how to care for them, here.
Bougainvillea is a genus of flowering plants that are known for their lovely blossoms, that bloom several times in a year. The flowers come in an array of colors, right from purple and pink, to deep and bright red.
Bougainvillea plants are actually woody vines with thorny horns, and they are native to South American countries, including Brazil, Peru, and Argentina. They are often referred to as desert vines, and they are mainly grown as ornamental plants in flower gardens and yards.

Plant Description

Plants belonging to the Bougainvillea genus can reach a height of 1 to 12 meters. They are generally evergreen plants, but can be deciduous in dry areas.
The leaves are about 4 to 12 cm long and can spread up to 2 to 6 cm. The leaves are arranged alternately on the branches. The thorns are usually found to contain a waxy substance, which is black in color.
The actual bougainvillea flowers are very small. But a cluster of three flowers remain surrounded by three to six thin and colored bracts.
The color of these bracts can vary from white, pink, yellow, and magenta, to bright red, purple, and orange, and these colorful bracts make the flowers more attractive and appealing. As the bracts are very thin, just like paper, the flowers are sometimes referred to as 'paper flowers'.

Bougainvillea Care

You need to provide the optimum growth conditions to this plant, which include adequate water and sunlight, and the appropriate type of soil. Usually, cuttings are used for propagating the plant. For growing a bougainvillea, choose a location that receives direct sunlight for at least 5 to 6 hours a day. This can ensure better blooming.
The plant usually prefers well-drained and loamy soil. If you are planning to grow it in a pot or container, then make sure that the pot has proper drainage system and a hole at the bottom. As far as watering is concerned, it depends on a number of conditions, including the soil type, and the weather or climate.
Once the plant establishes itself firmly on the ground, it requires little watering. However, some watering is required during the growing season. Be sure to check the soil before watering the plant. If the soil is still wet from previous watering, then wait for a few days. But if the soil is dry, then water the plant thoroughly.

How to Prune a Bougainvillea

Pruning is a very important part of plant care, as it promotes flowering and the healthy growth of plants. It also helps maintain a proper shape. Pinching is the process of removing about half an inch of the tip of the new shoots with the help of the fingers, which can help promote blooming.
For pruning the plant, you will need a pair of garden clippers, shears, and loppers. Use the garden clippers to remove the dead and damaged branches, as well as the branches that are crossing each other.
Try to thin the inner part of the shrub a bit, in order to ensure better air circulation. Look for the damaged or diseased canes, and remove such canes with the help of a sharp shear.

Is Bougainvillea Poisonous?

The plant is not considered toxic for humans and pets. However, the thorns or the waxy sap of the plant can cause minor skin irritation in some individuals. Such skin irritation can occasionally manifest in skin rash as well.
So, be sure to wash the areas of the skin that come in contact with the thorns and sap of the plant. If the skin rash or irritation looks a bit alarming, then contact your health care provider.
This flowering plant is usually resistant to a number of pests and diseases. However, it can be attacked by aphids, worms, caterpillars, and mites at times. Apart from these, a few plant diseases can also affect it. Leaf spots and mildews are some common diseases that can affect this plant.
To protect the plant from these diseases, it is important to inspect and remove the diseased leaves at the time of pruning.
The root of the plant can also rot, if the plant is watered excessively, or the root is allowed to sit in water. If grown and maintained properly, it can be an excellent houseplant in cooler climates. It can also be a beautiful addition to a yard. In fact, the bougainvillea is one of the most popular ornamental plants used for landscaping.