Count Your Blessings!

With love and passion, everyone can have a nice garden...Elaine Yim

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Count The Garden By The Flowers, Never By The Leaves That Fall.
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..... Author unknown.

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Malaysian Flora USDA Zone 11
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Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Bougainvillea, A Very Versatile Plant

The bougainvillea is a thorny, woody vine that is native to South America. It was first discovered in 1768 by a French botanist, Philbert Commerson who named it after his friend Louis A. de Bougainville, a captain, matematician and explorer from Canada. It is the national flower of Guam and the official flower of Ipoh, Malaysia. In Malay language, we call it 'bunga kertas' meaning paper flowers.

The actual flower of the plant is small and usually white in colour. Each cluster-of-three flower is sourrounded by 3 to 6 bracts which are brightly coloured. So, we can have a pink, white, purple, red, orange, yellow or magenta bougainvillea plant.

Bougainvilleas are flowering evergreens that can be planted in many ways; e.g. as ornamental plants or bonsai plants in containers, as shrubs and hedges or to decorate pergolas, trelis, patio, decks and balconies. You can see bougainvillea of many colours being used to decorate the balconies of resorts, living apartments and even hospitals. They really look nice with cascading stems and flowers dropping from balconies and walls, especially when they bloom in a myriad of bright colours.
If you select 2 bougainvillea plants of different colours and plant them together in the same pot, you will get this effect. Ain't this combinition pretty? Think of the many colour combinations that you can try out.

This bougainvillea shrub has grown quite tall and is flowering profusely. It adds colour to the rock garden below.

Bougainvilleas are actually very easy to grow. They love the sun in our equatorial tropics. The seedlings can be purchased from nurseries at a cheap price. Some cultivars do not have thorns. Use well drain soil. They are almost pest free and require minimum care. Mine had been with me for more than 10 years, has never been repotted and it is still flowering. It can withstand long periods of neglect. Just that if you don't look after it well, there won't be much flowers but it won't die so easily. From my personal experience, if you water it very frequently, it will grow more stems and leaves at the expense of flowers. To encourage flowering, water less or just enough and apply fertilizer. The flower cycle can last from 4 to 6 weeks. After the flowers have withered, cut off the dead ends or maybe give the plant a good trim. Do this to reshape the plant and encourage new growth.

11 comments:

  1. Ooh, I love bougainvillea! Once I had one, but it needed so much light and warm. I don't have it anymore...

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  2. I love Bouganvillea but we have to grow as a houseplant or conservatory plant here and the one I had which wouldn't always flower died because I forgot I'd left it in a cold greenhouse last winter.

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  3. Bouganvillea gets huge and somewhat treacherous with its crazy thorns here in CA. It's well worth the scratching for that brilliant color though!

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  4. 4 to 6 weeks - it's great! Good post, Autumn Belle!

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  5. Kaija, Joanne. I hope you will try to grow bougainvillea again in the future, especially in spring/summer. Yes, they do need a lot of sunlight to flower, at least 5 hours or more. As I know, they can survive the winter if brought inside the house. They can even survive 1 frost encounter but not repeated frosts.

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  6. Dilley, now they have the 'no thorns' bougainvillea.

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  7. Tatyana, thanks for your nice compliments. Good to see you here.

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  8. I like bougainvillea, their colours are so bright especially when the sun is shinning brightly. I like the history that you mentioned here. I wonder if there are people with bougainvillea in their name nowadays... he he just a thought. Have a wonderful Sunday!

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  9. Steph, I think a girl with Chinese name of Ah Kuen means bougainvilla because 'tol kuen' is bougainvilla in cantonese. LOL.

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  10. I love this plant but it doesn't get that large here. It is not winter hardy so must be taken inside for the winter. Those huge specimens are amazing.

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  11. The White one has flowers. The others are yet to flower this season. The bougainvilleas are so so pretty.

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