Bougainvillea plant draws all attention to itself

When a bougainvillea plant is in full bloom, it is a little like posing Marilyn Monroe with a group of nuns. The plant draws all attention to itself and the other flowers and shrubs in the area seem to be background. We received the plant shown in the photograph in 2010 on the occasion of our 50th wedding anniversary. Since that time I have moved it to a table in the garage when the weather turns cold. A florescent light on a timer above the table helps the plants stored in the garage live through the winter.


Bougainvillea is an evergreen shrub in tropical areas of the United State. In our area and most of the United States they are container grown and need support for their long vine like limbs. Their thorns require caution when working with the limbs.


Bougainvillea plants require full sun, however protection from the mid-afternoon sun, especially during normal July and August months is recommended. I have a beach umbrella that I use to shade the plant as needed during those times.


I learned from the Southern Living Garden Book that what I considered to be a colorful petal is called a bract. The small, usually white, bloom is in the center and quickly disappears. The three large colorful bracts hang on for days until they eventually drop from the plant.


Container grown plants need to be watered regularly. I apply bloom promoting fertilizer at least every two weeks during the early summer. This year the blooms began appearing in late July. Pinching off the ends of the stems during the early summer months will usually speed up the process and increase the number of blooms.


I counted 27 varieties of the plant listed in the garden guide. They ranged in color from white, yellow, gold, and lavender to light pink, dark pink, and red. I am pleased with the color of my Bougainvillea and hope to see it have blooms surrounded by bracts for many more summers.