Bougainvillea was named after the world traveler, Louis de Bougainville, who discovered it in Brazil in 1790 and brought it to Europe where it became both widespread and popular.*
Blooming Time: April-September. It is the bracts that make the plant so eye-catching. The actual flowers are located in the center, and are usually creamy yellow.
Culture: Bougainvillea potting mix is made of 1 part potting soil, to 1 part peat moss, to 2 parts sand. April-September: When the first branches of flowers appear, move Bougainvillea to a sunny position, where it can remain during the rest of the flowering season. During this period do not let the plant dry out and fertilize weekly. September-February: When the plant has ceased flowering move it to a somewhat cooler, but still light position. Water sparingly during this period, it will flower better if it is allowed to dry out now and then. February-April: It is time to repot and trim Bougainvillea if necessary. It will flower best if roots are kept crowded and potbound. Trim back side shoots to the first pair of leaves from the main stem. Bear in mind that if the plant is allowed to grow unhindered it starts to produce sharp thorns.
Propagation: Bougainvillea is propagated in spring from new growth with bottom heat. It is easier to buy a new plant :o).
Bougainvillea glabra was featured as Plant of the Week December 11-18, 1998.
*One of our readers, Frank Branzuela, sent us an email noting that "The bougainvillea was discovered by Philibert Commerson and Jeanne Baret in the vicinity of Rio de Janiero in July of 1767, not 1790. By the way, Jeanne Baret was disguised as a boy as was Commercon's "valet" on the Bougainville expedition. She became the first woman to circumnavigate the globe when she made it back to France in 1775. Philibert never made it back to France. He died on Mauritius in 1773."
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.