Guide: on how to care Bougainvillea

Tropical Bougainvillea, with its beautiful magenta bracts and bright green foliage, can be the ideal choice if you want to add a splash of colour to your greenhouse or garden borders throughout the summer.

If growing outdoors in the UK, this South American evergreen climber must be brought inside over the winter because it does not do well in cold weather. You will have enough control over the environment if you grow it in a pot or other container so that it can thrive.

As an alternative, a heated greenhouse with direct sunlight and warmth that is covered by glass makes the perfect atmosphere for bougainvillaeas to flourish. The plant might also only be grown indoors, in a heated conservatory or on a sunny windowsill, with a trellis attached to support it as it climbs.

bougainvillaea in the UK, along with solutions to a number of frequently asked issues. Even though it’s not the easiest plant, there’s no reason your house or garden can’t have stunning bougainvillaea blossoms every summer if you have the correct expertise.

Guide: on how to care Bougainvillea

History, Origins, and Varieties
Tropical vine known as bougainvillaea is native to South and Central America, including Peru, Brazil, and Argentina. It is believed to have been brought to Europe for the first time in the early 19th century. It is now cultivated in many warm regions of the world, from Greece to Florida, and is Grenada’s national flower.

Bright green foliage, twisted thorns with black tips, and tiny white flowers situated in the centre of the vibrant blooms are the distinguishing features of bougainvillaea. In reality, these coveted brilliant blossoms are just paper-thin bracts (coloured leaves).

The plant will re-flower numerous times during a UK summer, dropping its bracts each time, provided it receives sufficient of sunlight. Although many other colours, such as white, yellow, orange, red, and two-toned variations, also occur, bracts are most frequently found in pink, magenta, and purple hues.

Larger bougainvillaea cultivars can grow as a groundcover and support heights and widths of up to 10 metres and 10 metres, respectively. There are also dwarf cultivars, most of which will not exceed 1 metre in height or width. Only a few of the more than 250 different bougainvillaea cultivars are regularly planted and produced in the UK.

The hardiest variety and one to search for is “Barbara Karst,” which has vibrant magenta bracts and is most likely to thrive in a UK climate. For hanging baskets and containers, the low-growing B. glabra and B. buttiana (a hybrid) are two of the best options.

Feeding, Care, and Growth Advice
Early spring is the ideal time to plant or, if necessary, repot bougainvillaea. In order to provide the root system plenty of room, we advise planting in a container. Bougainvillea requires a lot of fertilisers and prefers a slightly acidic soil. Use John Innes or other loam-based fertiliser along with well-rotted compost.

The plant needs full sunlight for at least six hours each day, though during the summer it should be shielded from direct sunlight by glass. Additionally, it requires warmth; you should only leave it outside in the late spring and summer. If not, keep it inside a building or a greenhouse where the temperature is kept above 10 °C.

Bougainvillea doesn’t require a lot of water. When it is growing, you should water it frequently (when the soil feels dry), but once it is mature, a thorough watering every two to three weeks in the spring and summer should be sufficient. If necessary, use pH-neutral rainwater and supplement with a liquid plant feed high in potassium to promote blooming.

A plant will replace its blooms with an abundance of green leaves if it receives too much water, which can also cause root rot. After the flowering period, which ends around September, the plant will enter a dormant state for the winter and only require very infrequent watering. However, avoid letting the plant become completely dried out for an extended period of time, and water it right away if it begins to wilt.

You must secure a potted bougainvillaea to a trellis or other support structure for it to flourish indoors. To prevent further root damage, this should be placed into the soil when the plant is first potted. For further details on how to train bougainvillaea on a trellis, see the section below.

Habitat and Growing Environment
The tropical and subtropical coastal regions of Central and South America are home to bougainvillaea. The plant thrives in these conditions because of the abundant sunlight, hot temperatures, and high humidity. Bougainvillea doesn’t just bloom in the summer; it blooms almost all year long in warmer climes

Growing conditions for bougainvillaea include nutrient-rich soil and regions with lots of room for its root system (which can be quite significant on a larger variety). It thrives in times of drought but prefers a drier soil with adequate drainage because too much water can cause the roots to rot. The plant has a higher-than-average tolerance to salt because it is a native of coastal regions.

Getting Bougainvillea To Grow On A Trellis
If you want your baby bougainvillaea to grow vertically after being planted in a container, you must give it the assistance of a trellis. To prevent further harm to the roots of your bougainvillaea, place this into the soil when you pot it.

Use plant ties to attach the vines loosely to the trellis, around every 30 cm, behind the growing plant. As the plant develops, add more ties, making careful to tie them securely enough to hold the heavy branches. When it reaches maturity, it will be “trained” and won’t need any further ties unless you choose to alter its growth trajectory.

Bougainvillea pruning
It’s crucial to prune your bougainvillaea to promote flowering and new growth. The optimal time to prune is in the late winter or early spring, typically towards the end of February. Prior to the start of the new year’s growth in March, prune to guarantee that your plant will be in the greatest possible condition to flower.

Use this chance to reshape your bougainvillaea, trimming away any broken or stray branches and positioning it for the direction you want it to develop. To protect yourself from the thorns, keep total pruning to no more than 50% of the plant and always prune while wearing gardening gloves.

In addition to this severe trimming before the growing season, you can also prune less severely in the summer after each blooming. Before the season is over, this will induce a second or third wave of bracts.

Common Illnesses & Issues
Wilting and leaf drop in bougainvillea are the most frequent issues that arise when it is exposed to too low temperatures. By bringing the plant indoors over the winter and making sure the temperature doesn’t go below 10°C, you may avoid this.

Apart from that, bougainvillaea is typically quite resilient; it can endure with little water, and it is not particularly susceptible to many illnesses. It might, however, fall victim to some common pests, including red spider mites, aphids, and whiteflies. Given that whiteflies prefer a warm environment, like the one you’ll be providing for your bougainvillaea, they can be a particular worry.

The small white insects themselves, the gooey honeydew material they create, and the black mould that results from the honeydew are all telltale indicators of whitefly. Encarsia formosa (parasitoid wasps) can be released into the environment to control an infestation naturally, or an organic insecticide can be used.