Bougainville - Nyctaginaceae - How to care for and grow Bougainville plants



Labouganville is one of the best known and most used plants to adorn gardens with delightful splashes of color.






: Angiosperms


: Eudicotyledons











: see the paragraph on "Main species"


The genreBougainvillea (often called Bougainvillea, referring to old botanical classifications), of the family Nyctaginaceae, better known asbougainvillea, includes shrubby climbing plants, native to Brazil and widespread in all areas of the world with a mild climate as ornamental plants, covering the walls with spots of color from white, to pink, to orange, to red, to purple.

The leaves are arranged alternately along the stem, petiolate and with entire margins while the flowers are small, insignificant, cream in color, gathered in panicle inflorescences, surrounded however by large bracts of various colors and papery consistency, very showy which make the flowering of this unique plant for its beauty.


We find 18 species in the genus Bougainvillea among which the most cultivated are:


There Bouganvillea glabra it is a climbing plant that reaches eight meters in height when grown in open ground, while if grown in pots it does not exceed three meters.

The stems have a dark bark that bears numerous short thorns. The leaves are oval-lanceolate, deciduous, of a glossy dark green color with entire margins.

It is a species resistant to low temperatures and blooms in summer-autumn producing small yellowish-white flowers surrounded by bracts of varying color from pink to red to purple. It is, among the different species, the most floriferous.

There are numerous cultures among which we remember: Bougainvillea glabra 'Crimson Lake is characterized by heart-shaped leaves while the bracts surrounding the flowers are of a crimson red color with autumn flowering; B. glabra 'Cypheri 'with very dense leaves and bright red bracts; B. glabraSanderiana 'with dark red bracts that blooms abundantly and for a long time; B. glabraB. glabra 'Variegated with leaves with cream-colored streaks.


There Bouganvillea spectabilis it is a species native to Brazil, fast growing, larger than the previous one; climbing habit and with numerous thorny branches bearing large light-colored, hairy, oval, persistent leaves.

It blooms throughout the summer period (June - September), producing leche flowers whose bracts take on a more or less intense pink color, with a papery consistency.

There are numerous cultures among which we remember: B. spectabilis Lady Wilson 'with cherry red bracts; B. spectabilis lataeritia 'with brick-colored bracts.


The species Bouganvillea x buttiana is a hybrid, now very widespread obtained from the cross between B. glabra x B. peruviana. It is a robust evergreen climbing plant characterized by very showy and colorful bracts. There are numerous varieties on the market, including: 'Mrs. Butt 'with bracts of a color ranging from crimson red to magenta pink; the 'Brilliant' with bracts characterized by orange-red shades; the 'Kiltie Campbell' with orange bracts that darken with time.


There Bouganvillea aurantiaca it is a less widespread species than the previous brick-red bracts, very sensitive to the climatic conditions which require a particularly hot climate.


There Bouganvillea fulgens it is characterized by dark green and velvety leaves with purple and mauve flower bracts.


Bougainvillea is a very simple plant to grow. In temperate climate areas, it can be grown in the open ground, in sunny areas, with a medium-textured soil characterized by good drainage. In areas where winters are harsh and winter temperatures drop below 5 ° C, the plant must be rigorously raised in pots to be taken to sheltered places during cold periods.

Being a climbing plant to grow it needs supports, such as trellises, poles, pergolas, in short, anything the plant can cling to in order to develop.

The ideal location for these plants is in full sun.


The soil must always remain moist (not wet) from spring and throughout the summer. During the other periods, watering should be reduced to a minimum, just enough not to make the soil dry out.


Labouganville should be repotted every year, at the end of winter-early spring using a good light mixture of moorland, sand and peat.


It is fertilized throughout the summer period once a week using a good liquid fertilizer diluted in the irrigation water, slightly decreasing the doses compared to what is reported in the fertilizer package as they are always exaggerated.

It is advisable to use a fertilizer that in addition to having the macroelements qualiazoto (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) also has microelements such as iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), all important for proper plant growth.


At the end of the reverse, the more slender branches of the bougainvillea are pruned and the main branches are cut by a third to give new vigor to the plant.


The flowering period of bougainvillea varies according to the species and embraces the period from the beginning of summer to the end of autumn and always occurs in the branches of the year.


Bougainvillea multiplies by cuttings.

The cuttings can be taken both during the summer period (August) and during the winter period (January). In the first case, if taken during the summer period, they must be about 7 cm long and taken from semi-mature branches; in the second case they can be even 15 cm and taken from mature branches.

The cuttings must be cut immediately under the node, leaving the leaves higher and eliminating those lower. They must be taken from robust and healthy plants and it is advisable to cut obliquely as this allows for a greater surface area for rooting and prevents water from accumulating on this surface.

A well sharpened blade should be used to prevent the fabrics from fraying. It is also important that the tool used for cutting is clean and disinfected (preferably with a flame) to avoid infecting the tissues.

The bougainvillea cuttings thus obtained are arranged in a compound consisting of one part of peat and one part of coarse sand, making holes with a pencil, as many as there are cuttings to be placed, taking care subsequently to gently compact the soil.

The box or pot is then covered with a transparent plastic sheet (or a hooded bag) and is placed in the shade and at a temperature around 18 ° C, taking care to keep the soil always moist, watering without wetting the rooting cuttings with water at room temperature and possibly not calcareous.

Every day the plastic is removed to check the humidity of the soil and eliminated from the plastic the condensation that will surely have formed.

Once the first shoots start to appear, after about three weeks, it means that the cutting has taken root. At that point the plastic is removed and the pot is placed in a brighter area, at the same temperature and expects the cuttings to strengthen. Once they are large enough, they are transplanted into the final pot and treated like adult plants.


The leaves and flower buds fall off

If the leaves and flower buds fall for no apparent reason, it means that the environment in which the plant is located is too cold.
Remedies: move the plant to a warmer area.

The plant does not bloom

If the plant does not bloom it means that it has not been raised properly.
Remedies: check, based on the indications given in this sheet, how you have bred the plant to date and adjust accordingly.

Deformed leaf tips and presence of small mobile insects

If you notice small white-yellowish-greenish mobile insects you are almost certainly in the presence of aphids or as they are commonly called lice. You observe them with a magnifying glass and compare them with the photo on the side, they are unmistakable, you can't go wrong.

Remedies: treat the plant with specific pesticides that you can find from a good nurseryman. These are generally systemic products, that is, they enter the lymphatic circulation of the plant and are therefore absorbed by insects during feeding.

Yellowed, dusty leaves with light cobwebs

If the leaves show this symptomatology, a red spider mite attack is certainly underway, a very annoying and harmful mite.

Remedies: use a specific pesticide for mites readily available in gardening centers.

Brown spots on the leaves

Brown spots on the leaves especially on the underside could mean that you are in the presence of cochineals, brown cochineal or mealy cochineal. To be sure, it is recommended to make use of a magnifying glass and observe them. Compare them with the photos shown, they are characteristics, you can't go wrong. Also if you try to remove them with a fingernail, they come off easily.

Remedies: use specific pesticides available from a good nurseryman.


The name of the plant originates from the French navigator Louis Antoine de Bouganville who discovered this plant during his travels and fell in love with it.


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