Scientific Name: Bougainvillea
Common Names: Bougainvillea, Paperflower
Species: B. glabra – most frequently used for bonsai cultivation. Magenta bracts.
B. spectabilis – pink or mauve bracts
B. peruviana – rosy pink bracts.
B. buttiana – actually a hybrid of B. glabra and B. spectabilis
Cultivars: ‘Ambiance’ or ‘John Walker’ – orange bracts that mature to neon pink. Fast growing.
‘Barbara Karst’ – red bracts that mature to dark neon pink. Moderate grower. Blue-green foliage.
‘Elizabeth Angus’ – vivid purple bracts, persistent blooms
‘Golden Glow’ – bright yellow bracts which fade to apricot
‘Helen Johnson’ – red bracts maturing to a medium pink, dwarf variety
‘Ice’ – several varieties of slow growing cultivars with variegated foliage and short internodes
‘Louis Wathen’ – orange bracts.
‘Magnifica’ – rose pink bracts.
‘New River’ – lavender to medium purple bracts. Naturally small leaves and bracts.
‘Pink Pixie’ – pink bracts, dwarf variety
‘Raspberry Ice’ – fuchsia bracts and variegated leaves with cream margins. Short internodes. Prolific, repeat bloomer. Slow growing.
‘Snow White’ – white bracts.
‘Sundown Orange’ – salmon to coral bracts
Bougainvillea is a genus of subtropical, semi-evergreen climbers common to places like South America and the Mediterranean. Favored for their brightly coloured blooms (actually three papery bracts encircling each tiny white flower), older specimens can have truly stunning trunks with natural jin and shari and a twisting character that lend to the illusion of great age. Their growth, like most plants with a naturally climbing habit, can be scraggly in immature plants. It takes many years for a thick trunked bougainvillea to develop, but it is well worth the effort!
History: The shrub is named for Louis Antoine de Bougainville (an admiral in the French Navy, who commanded the ship La Boudeuse) by his close friend Dr. Philibert Commerçon who discovered the plant in Rio di Janeiro, Brazil in 1768. In 1789, twenty years after Commerçon’s discovery, the genus was first published as ‘Buginvillea’ in Genera Plantarium by A.L. de Jusseau. It wasn’t identified as Bougainvillea until the 1930’s.
Anatomy: Bougainvillea are native to South America, a far ranging shrub that can be found in from Brazil to Peru, to Argentina. They belong to the family Nyctaginaceae (also known as the Four O’Clock Garden family), and depending on the authority, the genus contains anywhere from four to eighteen distinct species. Many of today’s bougainvillea are the result of interbreeding among only three out of the eighteen South American species recognized by botanists.
Bougainvillea have a woody, rambling vine nature in the landscape, growing anywhere from 3 to 36 feet (1-12m) tall, and spreading out two or more times that size in environments it likes. It is often grown as a ground cover, wall climber or even as a hedge in warmer climates.
Foliage: Medium to bright green, leaves are alternate, with a varied, simple form, from heart-shaped to ovate. They range in size from 2 to 4 inches (4-13 cm) long. Some species, like B. glabra have a slight fuzz. Bougainvillea are evergreen in warm climates with constant rainfall, or will shed their leaves in cooler climates, or ones where there is a drought season.
Stems and Trunk: A rambling, woody vine that becomes gnarled with age. Pale brown to greenish bark depending on species and cultivar.
Flowers: Single or double blooms on new growth at the end of shoots and in leaf axils. Double blooming varieties are more likely to have all of their flowers clustered at the ends of the branches. The true flowers are very tiny, tubular white blooms. The showy bracts (leaf like structures that surround the flowers, often to help attract pollinators) around it, often mistaken for true flowers, and come in a variety of colours, including pink, mauve, magenta, red, orange, yellow, and white.
Flowering will usually occur one or twice a year under the correct conditions, and can last from four to six weeks. Bougainvilleas’ natural habitat is equatorial where day and night lengths are almost equal. Bougainvillea in these areas tend to bloom year round. Anywhere else, where day and night length vary throughout the year, best blooming occurs when the night length and day length are almost equal (in spring or fall). In winter, blooming is better than in the dog days of August because of night length. Also, some cultivars are triggered to bloom after a rainy season followed by a dry season.
There are two methods to force flowering. One involved withholding water. Bougainvillea will flower in response to increased watering after drought conditions, as a stress response. Withhold water until leaves wilt, even to the point of leave loss, before reintroducing regular watering. A study at the University of Florida however found that Bougainvillea flower best when fed high nitrogen fertilizer (contrary to accepted practices of low nitrogen feed with usually encourages flowering over vegetative growth) and short day lengths.
Fruit/Seeds: Narrow, tiny, five lobed achene (simple, dry fruit that contains a single seed and does not open upon maturity. Ex. Dandelion seeds).
Other Features: Some species of Bougainvillea have hooked thorns that are covered with a dark, waxy substance that allows them to cling to surfaces.
Hardiness: Zone 9-11. While they thrive outdoors in summer, Bougainvillea are not frost hardy, needing to remain above 50 degrees (10 Celsius) year round. They can survive a freeze in the landscape, but will suffer dieback and withhold blooming.
Light: Bougainvillea prefer bright sunlight, and should be grown outside as long as nighttime temperatures remain above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius). They require a minimum of five hours of full sun a day for good blooming. Less may see some blooming, or none at all. Indoors, Bougainvillea require at a light level of at least 4000 f.c for blooming.
Soil: A free-draining soil mix, with plenty of fibrous material, but no fine particles. Bougainvillea do not tolerate constantly damp roots. Bougainvillea does best with a soil pH of 5.5-6.5
Watering: Drought tolerant. Do not keep the roots permanently damp, as these plants can tolerate and prefer a slightly drier soil. Water with restraint in winter, and when forcing flowers, as bougainvillea will not flower if over watered. In early summer, withholding water until the leaves start to wilt may induce flowering, though it can also cause leaf drop. Once normal watering is resumed, the leaves will regrow. Will drop leaves readily due to overwatering.
Fertilizer: Low nitrogen through the growing season, tapering off in fall. Chelated iron may improve bract colouring. There is one fertilizer on the market called BOUGAIN, that is marketed specifically for Bougainvillea.
Pests and Diseases: Usually fairly pest free, but watch for aphids and leaf cutters when grown outdoors, and spider mites and powdery mildew when grown indoors. Inspect roots for root aphids and vine weevils. The larvae of some Lepidoptera species also use them as food plants, such as the Giant Leopard Moth. Chlorosis from lack of iron or magnesium. Leaf Spot.
Repotting: Avoid radical rootpruning, as Bougainvillea have a delicate root system. Repot every two to five years, depending on climate: two years in a hot climate where roots grow fast, or four to five years in a cooler climate with slower growth. Remove as much of the old soil as possible, but keep the root pruning light, as they don’t react well to radical root loss. Bougainvillea do best when put in deeper pots. Though sun loving, their roots can use the extra protection from the heat, especially in the peak of summer. Bougainvillea also bloom better when slightly rootbound.
Pruning and Styling: Bougainvillea react will to pruning, sending out new growth readily. A bougainvillea, like most vining-type plants, will continue to grow outward without sending out side branches from each leaf-bud point unless the stem is pinched. By pinching out the tip, most bougainvillea cultivars will send out new stems from 2 to 3 leaf-buds below the cut, though there are some cultivars that will not send out side shoots. Spring growth should be allowed to grow until the new leaves have hardened off, then cut down to one or two leaves. The following burst of growth will bear the flowers. Pruning too early can cause too much vegetative growth, while pruning too late will limit flowering. If in doubt, simply wait until after flowering. Remove flowers as they fade to keep the tree looking neat during the blooming season. Prune current seasons growth right after flowering, some time in autumn, though pruning can be done almost any time of year on a healthy plant. Try to prune mostly while the tree is in a semi-dormant state though, as in the autumn and winter, whenever possible. Major branch pruning can be done in the winter.
Bougainvillea sucker readily. With naturally scraggly growth habit, older plants will develop a thicker trunk if all of the suckers at the base are removed as soon as they appear.
Wiring: Older branches become brittle, so wire younger, more flexible branches.
Jin/Shari: Bougainvillea are one of the few non-conifers suited to jin and shari. Treat deadwood with lime sulphur.
Seeds: Many cultivars only produce sterile seeds, and even seeds from viable cultivars are not always reliable. Do not require stratification, seem to germinate more reliably with basal heat. Brown seeds are mature, white seeds immature.
Cuttings: More reliable than seed. Take softwood cuttings in spring and early summer, propagating in a mix of half and half peat/perlite or sand. Apply basal heat if possible. Hardwood cuttings in winter and early spring.
Other: Removal of suckers. Airlayering.
Styles and Forms: Immature plants are best suited to literati, cascade, or semi cascade. Also informal upright.
Other Information and Trivia: -To acclimate a Bougainvillea from indoor wintering to outdoors in the spring, introduce it to the outdoors slowly. Start with an hour of morning sun the first day, increasing by an hour a day until it can remain outdoors for the rest of the season.
-A variety of species of Bougainvillea are the offical flowers of the island of Grenada, the island of Guam, of Lienchiang and Pingtung Counties in Taiwan; Ipoh, Malaysia. As well as that of the cities of Tagbilaran, Philippines; Camarillo, California; Laguna Niguel, California; and San Clemente, California.
Reference.com on the Bougainvillea http://www.reference.com/search?q=Bougainvillea%20
All About Bonsai Penelope O’Sullivan, 2004
Bonsai Survival Manual Colin Lewis, 1996
Trees and Shrubs Ernie Wasson, Tony Rodd, 2004
Bougainvillea Growers International – http://www.bgi-usa.com/bougainvillea-re … ea-101.php
Plant Facts; Bougainvillea glabra- http://www.plantfacts.com/Family/Nyctag … abra.shtml
Wikipedia Bougainvillea entry- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bougainvillea
BCI Bougainvillea entry- http://www.bonsai-bci.com/species/bougainvillea.html