Bougainvilleas are climbers and shrubs originating from South America. Characterised by their sharp thorns and colourful bracts (modified leaves) that surround the cream flowers. A wide range of hybrids ensures that they can be used extensively in the garden for a host of different purposes.
1. Grow best in a hot dry full sun position.
2. Soils must be well drained. Add sand to clay soils if necessary.
3. Sensitive to frost damage. Protect young plants during winter in frost zones.
4. Choose wisely when making your selection as growth habits and growth rates vary tremendously from type to type.
5. Garden uses include:
– Ground cover on slopes and banks.
– Train as climbers against walls and fences.
– Prune into shaped archways and hedges.
– Outstanding pot or container plants, in window boxes and even hanging baskets.
– Excellent security fence.
Planting and care
1. Dig holes approximately 600mm x 600mm x 600mm.
2. Add ⅓ part compost to ⅔ part topsoil dug from the hole. Mix with 500g Agricultural Lime and 200g Superphosphate OR Bonemeal. (In clay soil mix ⅓ part compost, ⅓ part soil and ⅓ part river sand).
3. Return mixture to planting hole, firming down well.
4. Dig hole in centre of prepared area large enough to accommodate the entire root ball.
5. Soak the plant in the bag in a bucket of water before planting.
6. Position plant at correct depth with the top of the root ball level with the surrounding ground.
7. Make 6 or 7 slits in the nursery bag with a knife. Do not attempt to remove the nursery bag s this often results in root disturbance and damage to the brittle root system. More plants are killed off at transplant stage than at any other time.
8. Fill soil around the root ball and firm down well.
9. Water with at least 10 litres of water and then leave to settle. Thereafter water sparingly, only when plant shows signs of dryness with drooping leaves.
10. Use a good potting soil for planting into pots.
11. Bougainvilleas growing in rigid nursery pots need to be removed carefully from the pot by turning the pot upside down. Pressing the outside of the pot, let the pot slide away from the root ball. Proceed with planting as described above.
12. Attach or tie the plant to a sturdy stake to prevent damage by wind movement.
Feeding and pruning
1. Contrary to popular belief, Bougainvilleas do benefit from regular fertilizing and feeding.
2. Apply a good growing and flowering fertilizer during the growing season.
3. Mulch every Spring with a layer of Compost – 50mm thick.
4. Bougainvilleas always flower after periods of dry weather – keep them as dry as possible to ensure a spectacular show.
5. There are no hard and fast rules regarding pruning. Specific plants require different pruning techniques to maintain size and shape. Late Winter is the best time for major pruning when plants can be cut back hard if necessary. The pinching out of the new growth tips promotes compact, bushy growth without impacting on flowering.
6. Double bracted forms require removal of dead or spent bracts to promote further blooming and maintain a neat, tidy appearance.
Pests and diseases
1. Relatively pest and disease free and very easy to grow.
2. Poor drainage and waterlogged soils causes yellowing of leaves, defoliation and eventual death due to root rot.
3. Fungal spots appear on leaves during extended periods of wet weather. Spray with a good fungicide.
4. Whitefly can be a problem where plats are grown under a covered roof, spray with a good Whitefly insecticide.
Make sure when you plant your Bougainvillea that the plant has ample air flowing.