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 Bougainvillea subsp. var.  Bougainvillea
Habit: vine-climber
Height: to
Width: to
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Lifespan: perennial
Exposure: sun
Features: evergreen, flowers
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Minimum Temp: °Fwarning.png"°F" is not a number.
USDA Zones: 9 to 12
Sunset Zones:
Flower features: red, orange, yellow, single, double
Nyctaginaceae > Bougainvillea var. ,

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Bougainvillea (pronounced /ˌbuːɡɨnˈvɪliə/)[1] is a genus of flowering plants native to South America from Brazil west to Peru and south to southern Argentina (Chubut Province). Different authors accept between four and 18 species in the genus. The plant was discovered in Brazil in 1768, by Philibert Commerçon, French Botanist accompanying French Navy admiral and explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville during his voyage of circumnavigation.

They are thorny, woody vines growing anywhere from 1-12 meters tall, scrambling over other plants with their hooked thorns. The thorns are tipped with a black, waxy substance. They are evergreen where rainfall occurs all year, or deciduous if there is a dry season. The leaves are alternate, simple ovate-acuminate, 4-13 cm long and 2-6 cm broad. The actual flower of the plant is small and generally white, but each cluster of three flowers is surrounded by three or six bracts with the bright colors associated with the plant, including pink, magenta, purple, red, orange, white, or yellow. Bougainvillea glabra is sometimes referred to as "paper flower" because the bracts are thin and papery. The fruit is a narrow five-lobed achene.

Bougainvillea are relatively pest-free plants, but may suffer from worms and aphids.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Bougainvillea (De Bougainville, 1729-1811, a French navigator). Nyctaginaceae. South American shrubs, often climbers, with very gaudy large bracts, grown under glass, and as arbor plants South. Leaves alternate, petioled, entire: fls. small and inconspicuous, tubular, the margin 5-6-lobed; stamens, 7-8, on unequal capillary filaments; ovary stipitate. The small and inconspicuous fls. are inclosed with large and showy magenta-purple or red bracts that constitute the decorative value of the plants. Two more or less scandent species are chiefly known in cult. Less than a dozen recognized species.

The bougainvilleas have been much grown of late as pot-plants. The young stock (started from cuttings) may be grown in the field and be lifted in early autumn; this will produce plants for spring bloom but not for early flowering. For earlier bloom, the plants may be carried through the summer in pots. Half-ripened or old wood, in 6- to 12-inch lengths, may be used for cuttings in April to June. The subsequent culture is simple. For glasshouse .work the plants may be kept rut back and the branches trained. In California, Florida, and other southern regions, bougainvilleas are plentifully used as porch-covers, where they make a most brilliant show. Not hardy.

The cultural requirements of the bougainvilleas are of the easiest. They thrive in almost any kind of soil and should be grown in full sunshine. B. glabra and its varieties are the best for ordinary purposes, as they bloom when small, and thrive readily in a cool greenhouse or in the open where free from frost. B. spectabilis and its var. lateritia require more tropical conditions and reach large dimensions. All are readily propagated, and will root in a few weeks from cuttings of the young shoots a few inches in length and placed in sandy soil in bottom heat and moisture at a temperature of 65° or 70° F. B. glabra and its varieties make most excellent pot-plants, either as large or small specimens. They are also valuable for summer bedding. All the kinds make very desirable subjects for clothing verandas, arches and pergolas or for planting at the base of trees (where the climate is suitable for outdoor culture), which they will rapidly clothe in a mass of most beautiful and highly colored flower-bracts. Another and most effective purpose to which these plants can be put is that of hedge or fence plants in tropical and subtropical countries. They stand drought exceedingly well and may be pruned with impunity. (C. P. Raffill.)

B. aurantiaca. Hort.— B. Lindleyana. — B. formosa. Bull. Semi-scandent, free- flowering: purplish mauve: under comparatively cool treatment said to be well adapted for decoration of warm greenhouses and conservatories. Brazil. — -B. Lindleyana. Hort. Hairy. climbing, with strong curved spines : lvs. obovate- rounded, acute, slightly undulate, very hirsute: bracts elliptic. short - acuminate. cinnabar- color. — B. refulgens, Bull. Lvs. pubescent: racemes long and drooping, and bracts purple. Brazil. Apparently a less valuable and shy-flowering form of B. spectabilis.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


Although it is frost-sensitive and hardy in U.S. Hardiness Zones 9b and 10, bougainvillea can be used as a houseplant or hanging basket in cooler climates. In the landscape, it makes an excellent hot season plant, and its drought tolerance makes bougainvillea ideal for warm climates year-round. Bougainvillea has a high salt tolerance, which makes it a natural choice for color on coastal regions. As a woody clambering vine, bougainvillea will stand alone and can be pruned into a standard, but it is perfect along fence lines, on walls, in containers and hanging baskets, and as a hedge or an accent plant. Its long arching branches are thorny, and bear heart-shaped leaves and masses of papery bracts in white, pink, orange, purple, and burgundy. Many cultivars, including double flowered and variegated, is available.

The growth rate of Bougainvillea vary from slow-growing to rapid, depending on the particular variety. Bougainvillea tend to flower all year round in equatorial regions. Elsewhere, they are seasonal bloomers. They grow best in somewhat dry, fertile soil. Bloom cycles are typically four to six weeks. Bougainvillea grow best in very bright full sun and with frequent fertilization, but the plant requires little water once established. As indoor houseplants in temperate regions, they can be kept small by bonsai techniques. If overwatered, Bougainvillea will not flower and may lose leaves or wilt, or even die from root decay.


Pests and diseases


Many of today's bougainvillea are the result of interbreeding among only three out of the eighteen South American species recognized by botanists. Currently, there are over 300 varieties of bougainvillea around the world. Because many of the hybrids have been crossed over several generations, it's difficult to identify their respective origins. Natural mutations seem to occur spontaneously throughout the world; wherever large numbers of plants are being produced, bud-sports will occur. This had led to multiple names for the same cultivar (or variety) and has added to the confusion over the names of bougainvillea cultivars.

Bougainvillea buttiana</br> Bougainvillea glabra</br> Bougainvillea peruviana</br> Bougainvillea spectabilis</br> Bougainvillea spinosa



  1. Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607

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