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Bougainvillea
Bougainvillea

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Zone
Zones 5, 6, 12-17, 19, 21-29, H1, H2
Full Sun
Full
Regular Water
Moderate

Bougainvillea hybrid

Nyctaginaceae
Evergreen, Ground covers, Shrubs, Vines

Native to tropical and subtropical South America. Reliably hardy in Zones 22–24, H1, H2, yet widely and satisfyingly grown in areas of minimum frost: Zones 12–17, 19, 21. Use has extended into Zones 5 and 6, thanks to low-growing shrubby types that can be purchased in full bloom and grown in containers. These are used on patios as summer annuals and moved to a protected area over winter. Where frosts are routine (as in Zones 12, 14, 19, 21), vines need a protected warm wall or warmest spot in garden. If vines get by first winter or two, they will be big enough to take most winter damage and recover. In any case, young plants bloom so readily replacement is not a real deterrent.

Bougainvillea's vibrant colors come not from the inconspicuous true flowers but from the large, paper, petal-like bracts that surround them. Bloom reaches its peak in summer, but in mildest-winter regions flowers may appear from spring through fall, and even into winter. The double kinds can look messy, because they hold faded blooms for a long time. White- and yellow- flowered varieties need light shade in the hottest climates.

Vining bougainvilleas are fast, vigorous growers, reaching 15– 30 ft. depending on variety. Long, needlelike thorns arm stiff stems that are moderately to densely clothed in medium green, 2 1/2-in., heart-shaped leaves. Vines are superb on walls and sturdy fences, trellises, arbors. Because they have no means of attachment (though the thorns help them scramble through shrubs and trees), you must tie stems to the support while basic structure is establishing.

In areas that typically have frosts, plant in early spring after danger of frost has passed. Roots do not knit soil together in a firm root ball, and they are highly sensitive to disturbance. To minimize shock when planting, cut off container bottom and set both plant and container in planting hole. Slide container up over the plant, filling in with soil as you go. Don't worry about damaging the plant as you do so; stems are pliant, with little horizontal growth. 

Fertilize when growing season begins and again in early summer. Water regularly in spring, moderately during bloom period.

'Barbara Karst'

Vigorous grower. Blooms young and for a long period, bearing bracts that are bright red in sun, bluish crimson in shade. Thrives in desert heat and comes back fast after frost.

'California Gold' ('Sunset')

Blooms young, with deep golden yellow bracts.

'Camarillo Fiesta'

Bracts in a blend of hot pink and gold.

'Cherry Blossom'

Double-flowered plant sports rose pink bracts with white to pale green centers.

'Don Mario'

Large, vigorous vine with huge clusters of deep purple-red bracts.

'James Walker'

A big, vigorous vine,with large, reddish purple bracts.

Bougainvillea 'Manila red'
Bougainvillea 'Manila red'

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'Manila Red'

Many rows of magenta-red bracts create heavy clusters of double-looking blooms.

'Mary Palmer’s Enchantment'

Vigorous, large-growing vine with pure white bracts.

'Oo-La-La'

Dwarf plant just 1 1/2 ft. tall and 6–8 ft. wide, with magenta-red bracts over a long season. Makes a good ground or bank cover or hanging basket plant.

'Orange King'

Open grower with bronzy orange bracts. Needs long summers to bloom well and cannot take frost.

'Purple Queen'

Deep purple bracts on vines that can reach 15 ft. with support; as a trailer, it grows 1 1/2 ft. tall, 6–8 ft. wide.

'Raspberry Ice' ('Hawaii')

Cold-hardy, shrubby plant with mounding habit (good in hanging baskets). Bracts are red, and yellow-edged leaves are tinged red when new.

'Rosenka'

Can be held to 1–2 ft. tall and 3–4 ft. wide if occasional wayward shoots are pruned out. Gold bracts age to pink.

'San Diego Red' ('San Diego', 'Scarlet O’Hara')

This is one of the best on all counts, with large, deep green leaves that hold on well in cold winters; deep red bracts that appear over a long season; and hardiness equal to old-fashioned purple bougainvilleas. Vigorous and high climbing, it can be trained to tree form by staking and pruning.

'Singapore Pink' ('Silhouette')

Thornless plant with bright pink bracts. Shrubby and compact, it can easily be kept to 3–4 ft. high and wide.

'Singapore White' ('Ms. Alice')

This thornless plant is shrubby and compact, easily kept to 3–4 ft. high and wide. Bracts are white.

'Tahitian Dawn'

Large-growing vine with gold bracts that age to rosy purple.

'Texas Dawn'

Choice, vigorous vine with large sprays of bracts in purplish pink.

'Torch Glow' ('Bangkok Red')

The plant grows erect to form a multistemmed plant to 6 ft. tall that needs no support. Reddish pink bracts are held close to stems and are partially hidden by foliage.

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Bougainvillea hybrid 'Oo-La-La'

Dwarf plant just 1 1/2 ft. tall and 6–8 ft. wide, with magenta-red bracts over a long season. Ma...

Bougainvillea hybrid 'Rosenka'

Can be held to 1–2 ft. tall and 3–4 ft. wide if occasional wayward shoots are pruned out. ...

Bougainvillea hybrid 'Singapore Pink' ('Silhouette')

Thornless plant with bright pink bracts. Shrubby and compact, it can easily be kept to 3–4 ft. h...

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